Chinese internet giant Baidu (NASDAQ: BIDU), owner of the country’s largest search engine, has expanded its nascent e-commerce efforts by partnering with telecom giant China Unicom to sell the highly awaited iPhone 12 via a new feature on the tech company’s app.
VSENS, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Chinese state-owned telecommunication carrier China Unicom, will livestream on Friday on the new Baidu shopping channel selling the new phone at a discount of up to RMB 500 (USD 75). VSENS has been distributing smartphones made by Apple, Huawei, Xiaomi, and others mainly through its wide network of brick-and-mortar outlets across the country.
Before the livestreaming event was announced, Baidu’s shopping channel, which launched quietly in the last month, only offered a limited range of products, KrASIA reported on Tuesday.
Baidu is far from being the only channel where Chinese consumers can get the latest Apple phone, as e-commerce platform JD.com, on-demand grocery delivery platform JD Daojia, and Alibaba’s food delivery platform Ele.me are all set to offer the handset once the official sales kick off on Friday. However, Baidu is thus far the only company to have partnered with a major telecom carrier, demonstrating a strong capability to build its e-commerce supply chain.
JD Daojia, for example, sources their phones from 500 authorized Apple resell outlets across China, the platform’s owner Dada told KrASIA last week.
Baidu’s choice of iPhones as a means to lure customers from established e-commerce platforms is similar to a tactic Pinduoduo adopted to shed its low-end budget image last year.