France Télécom Orange has signed an exclusive agreement with Chinese search engine and web services company Baidu, which will see the two companies collaborate on a co-branded mobile browser aimed at Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
The browser will be initially launching in Africa, starting with subscribers to Mobinil – an Egyptian operator majority-owned by France Télécom – in both English and Arabic versions, with a French version to follow.
The browser, which will come pre-installed on devices sold by France Télécom's various international operators, boasts one-click access to web-based apps and services, presumably provided by Baidu, and data compression capabilities, which can apparently reduce the amount of data consumed by 30-90 per cent.
“The appetite for mobile internet services is very strong in Africa,” said Marc Rennard, Orange's senior executive vice president for Africa and the Middle East. “For example, demand for Android devices in Egypt has doubled in the second half of this year. 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.”