By Khurram Aziz email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Jan 15, 2013 11:54 AM EST
Chinese search giant Baidu has teamed up with France Telecom to develop a mobile browser tailored to Android customers in Africa and the Middle East, a region both companies have prioritized for growth.
Baidu will provide not only a co-branded browser, but also network technology to reduce traffic on France Telecom's Orange networks in the Middle East and mainly French-speaking Africa.
Orange has a total mobile base of nearly 80 million customers in the region and Baidu said in a statement reported by Fox Business, that the browser would be catered to emerging markets and was designed to grab the rapidly growing numbers of people using smartphones to access the Internet in Africa.
Users in the region are steadily moving from basic phones to low cost smartphones as faster 3G networks become available. However, data speeds in the region are still slow, so the browser has to cater to a more streamlined Internet experience.
"The idea was two-fold with Baidu," Xavier Perret, head of partnerships at Orange, told the Wall Street Journal. "Their technology for compression will ensure quality of service. Secondly they have existing services in the region, especially in Egypt."
"This partnership it is a pragmatic one; we develop customer stickiness and usage," he added. "For Baidu it is a way to get more knowledge of the market and enlarge their audience."
This is Baidu's first foray into the African market and follows its expansion into Japan, Thailand, and Brazil. The company is also currently working on creating an international version of its flagship search engine.
The browser, available in Arabic and English, has already been launched Egypt. A French version is also in the pipeline.