Baidu, a company primarily known for its search engine in China, has announced that it is launching a new mobile operating system: Yi. The new OS is to be forked off of Android and Baidu will be providing its own apps and services in lieu of Google's apps. Those apps should include Baidu-based maps, ebooks, downloadable music, cloud storage, and cloud backup. There will also apparently be a custom SDK and app store for the platform.

Custom forks of Android are nothing new in China (OPhone is a good example), but it looks pretty clear that Baidu is going to put some muscle behind its new platform. In fact, a report today from Reuters notes that Dell is a partner in building both tablets and handsets for Baidu. It looks likely that this will mean Dell is going to build devices based on Yi, but we've reached out for official confirmation. "Local sources" suggest that its even possible we may see these devices launch as early as November.

In the meantime, check out a promo video for Yi after the break.

Update: Baidu PR just got back to us — they would not confirm or deny whether Dell is building devices specifically for the Yi platform, but confirmed that Dell is one of many hardware partners that the search company works with.

Source: Baidu, Reuters; via Penn-Olson, micgadget