By Melanie Lee and Yuntao Huang
BEIJING, May 11 (Reuters) - Baidu Inc, China's largest search engine, will launch a new smartphone partnership next week, that will see the smartphone use an upgraded version of its mobile operating system, a senior company executive said on Friday.
Baidu will announce the tie-up next week for new mobile devices, similar to Baidu's partnership with Dell Inc last December when Dell launched a smartphone running on Baidu's Yi platform. However, the new smartphones will run an upgraded version of Baidu Yi and will be called Baidu Cloud.
"We have a few partnerships coming up and will announce it in a week," Wang Jing, Baidu's vice president of engineering and head of mobile, told Reuters.
Wang said the firm was in talks with "global" handset manufacturers to make smartphones with Baidu's mobile operating system, for the Chinese market.
Wang also said Baidu was moving towards becoming a platform company that offered products across a spectrum of devices, from being a products company.
The focus on cloud computing comes as more people access the Internet from their mobile phones rather than desktop, putting pressure on Internet companies, such as Google and Facebook Inc , to develop robust mobile platforms from which people can still use their services.
Last year, Baidu launched its mobile platform, Yi, in China to compete with Google Inc's Android mobile operating system and Apple Inc's iOS.
At the end of 2011, China had 356 million mobile Internet users, government statistics showed.