Following reports in March from Chinese news websites that claimed Apple planned to integrate Baidu as a search engine in iOS, Bloomberg reported today that sources indicated the feature could be announced as soon as next week. Apple is set to kick off its Worldwide Developers Conference on June 11:

Apple Inc. (AAPL) plans to add Baidu Inc. (BIDU)’s search engine on iPhones in China, part of a push to broaden its services and user base in the world’s most-populous nation, according to two people with knowledge of the matter…The agreement to add Baidu, China’s largest search engine, to the lineup of Web tools on the iPhone could be announced as early as next week, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans are private.

Bloomberg noted that Baidu is currently capturing roughly 80 percent of the search business in China by revenue, compared to just 16.6-percent for Google in the country. It is not surprising Apple will offer the country’s most popular desktop search engine to Chinese iPhone users, but many point to the company’s declining reliance on Google technologies and services in iOS. The report also backed our initial reports by claiming sources have indicated Apple will unveil its all new in-house Maps application, that we first revealed in May, sometime next week. As we explained, Apple’s new Maps application will not rely on Google Maps technologies. That is despite Google announcing enhanced 3D maps and features coming to both iOS and Android devices in the coming weeks.

Although Baidu was previously rumored to replace Google as the default search engine on iOS devices in China, Bloomberg’s sources said Google search would likely remain the default even after adding Baidu as an option.

In related news: Mozilla’s Firefox browser will kick Yandex to the curb this winter in favor of Google as its default search option in Russia. Get the full story at 9to5Google.

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