Apple will soon be adding Baidu as a search provider for its iOS devices in China, according to Bloomberg. One of two sources "with knowledge of the matter" has revealed that an announcement could come as early as next week at WWDC. As of now it's unclear how Apple intends to bring the service to users; it could feasibly do so via an iOS 5 update, but an introduction in iOS 6 — the next major revision of Apple's mobile platform — seems more likely. Today's report also doesn't specify whether Baidu will replace Google as the default search engine, or if users will instead need to visit the settings menu to make the change.
While the news can be interpreted as yet another example of Apple pulling away from Google, it's a logical step to take in the Chinese market. Baidu dominates search marketshare in the country, handling nearly 80 percent of all queries. Compare that to Google's presence (just over 16 percent) and it's not hard to understand Apple's reasoning. The company has also been working to integrate a number of local web services into OS X Mountain Lion before the desktop operating system ships in the coming weeks. With China already Apple's fastest-growing market, it would serve Cupertino well to keep that momentum going.