Chinese search provider Baidu has agreed to buy Android app store 91 Wireless for around $1.9 billion.
More than 10 billion app downloads have been made from the 91 Wireless app distribution platforms in China, 91 Assistant and HiMarket.
It was ranked as the top third-party app distribution platform in China by active users and downloads according to the iResearch 2011-2012 report.
Baidu has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with NetDragon Websoft, an online gaming and mobile internet company, to buy its 57.41 per cent stake in 91 Wireless.
Baidu and NetDragon will continue to negotiate with a view to coming to a definitive agreement by 14 August. Prior to this, NetDragon is unable to discuss the sale of 91 Wireless with other parties, under the terms of the MOU.
Baidu plans to acquire the remaining equity interests in 91 Wireless from other shareholders based on similar terms offered to NetDragon, including the 14 August deadline.
According to Reuters, NetDragon had intended to spin-out 91 Wireless, and its deal with Baidu has been met with some concern that it is giving up one of its key assets.
Baidu launched an Android-based mobile browser last year as it looked to remain ahead of rivals in the mobile space. Li Mingyuan, Baidu’s general manager of mobile and cloud computing, said the aim was for 80 per cent of Android users in China to have downloaded the software by the end of the year.
Also last year, Baidu said that around 25 per cent of its R&D spending goes on mobile.