Orange and Baidu launch African mobile Internet browser

France Telecom through its subsidiary Orange and Chinese search engine Baidu have launched a browser designed specifically for low-cost smartphones in the African market.

The two companies announced the partnership yesterday, rolling out the service for customers on Egypt’s Mobinil network in English and Arabic versions, citing their end-target as making mobile web available across all emerging markets.

The code reduces signalling and data transfer requirements prevalent on more complex smartphone browsers by between 30 and 90 percent depending on the type of data being used, also making quick web-browsing available on slower Internet speeds widely available in emerging markets across Africa, and the Middle East and Asia region.

“The appetite for mobile internet services is very strong in Africa, for example demand for Android devices in Egypt has doubled in the second half of this year,” said  Marc Rennard, senior executive vice president of Orange. “Price and access have been a barrier to entry, but partnering with innovative companies like Baidu provide unique solutions that give our customers affordable access to all the services they desire without compromising on features or ease-of-use.”.

The new browser also sees the creators partner with popular websites such as Facebook and Wikipedia, making the services available directly via icons on the home screen of low-end smartphones.

While France Telecom boasts some 80 million customers across the African continent, Baidu has already implemented a number innovations aimed at low-end mobile usage in the company’s home country of China, giving the partnership a strong bearing to influence the mobile market in Africa.

“Baidu’s success has been built on developing technologies, products and services appropriate for China, the world’s largest emerging market. We’re now bringing that experience to bear in other markets now enjoying rapid growth. Working with Orange in the Middle East and Africa, Baidu hopes to contribute meaningfully to the region’s growth by making the mobile internet easier than ever to use,” said Hu Yong, general manager of Baidu’s International Business Unit.

The browser will from now on be installed on all new devices sold by France Telecom operators, and will also be made available for download for devices working on other networks.

The duo is now working on developing a French version of the browser for the francophone African market.

Posted in: Mobile

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