VENTURES AFRICA – Telecom multinational, Orange has signed a strategic partnership – on an exclusive basis – with leading Chinese language Internet search provider, Baidu, to develop a co-branded internet browser for smartphone customers in Africa, the Middle East and Asia (AMEA).
The partnership marks the first time Baidu has signed such an agreement with a global operator, and supports Orange and Baidu’s aim to make the mobile web available for all in emerging markets.
Marc Rennard, senior executive vice president for Orange activities across Africa and the Middle East, commented: “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 2012. 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 Orange-Baidu browser is expected to provide a more affordable and richer browsing experience for customers due to its enhanced data compression capabilities (up to 90 percent of compression), and one-click access to internet services and web-based apps including Wikipedia and Facebook.
Orange and Baidu have already developed an Arabic and English version of the browser, launching for Mobinil customers today, and are now working to launch French versions of the browser for countries across Orange’s African & Middle East operations.
Listed on the NYSE, France Telecom-Orange is one of the world’s leading telecommunications operators with sales of 45.3 billion euros for 2011 and had 170,000 employees worldwide at 30 September 2012. Present in 33 countries, the Group had a total customer base of 227 million customers at 30 September 2012, including 169 million mobile customers and 15 million broadband internet (ADSL, fibre) customers worldwide.
Baidu, Inc. is the leading Chinese internet company. Baidu’s ADSs trade on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol “BIDU”. Currently, ten ADSs represent one Class A ordinary share.