France Telecom-Orange has signed a strategic partnership - on an exclusive basis - with Chinese internet company Baidu to develop a co-branded internet browser for smartphone customers in Africa, the Middle East and Asia (AMEA).
The new browser, which is initially available in English and Arabic, was launched on Android smartphones by France Telecom's Egyptian operator Mobinil on Monday.
Orange said mobile internet usage in Africa was increasing and that its customers have been steadily moving from basic feature phones towards more low-cost Android smartphones. The shift helps increase the amount of revenue it earns from its customer base of nearly 80 million in the region.
The new Orange and Baidu browser offers a customisable but simple interface, enabling users to access web-based apps and internet services unique to Baidu and Orange, as well as services like Wikipedia, Facebook or Twitter, amongst others. The user interface provides one-click access to all local and global services. The new browser is also faster and more data efficient compared to other browsers, Orange claims.
Orange and Baidu are now working to launch French versions of the browser for countries across Orange's African & Middle East footprint.