Baidu (NSDQ: BIDU) — which already dominates Google (NSDQ: GOOG) in the Chinese web search market — has now landed a major mobile distribution deal for its search engine. The company says its search engine, along with associated Baidu products, such as image search and MP3 search, will be pre-installed on China Unicom’s 3G phones. China Unicom — the country’s second largest mobile carrier — signed a three-year deal with Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) this summer to bring the iPhone to China, so the Baidu-China Unicom deal seems to suggest that those phones will have the Baidu products pre-installed. In May, Baidu reached a similar deal with China Telecom to put its search engine on that company’s 3G mobile phones.
It’s not clear whether Google was also in the running for the China Unicom distribution deal, although Google executives have said in the past that they believed the company’s mobile search traffic would outnumber its web search traffic in China by 2011. Google already has a search deal with China Mobile, the country’s biggest carrier. In part due to that relationship, Google has managed to match Baidu’s mobile search share, even though it trails the company in overall web search traffic. Worth noting that during Google’s earnings call last week, executives said several times that China had been a “strong performer” during the quarter. Baidu reports its earnings next Monday.