Were you wondering what Chinese internet giant Baidu was planning to do in 2013? It seems the answer may involve making further inroads into Africa. Baidu is planning on investigating the market through a new deal freshly inked with mobile operator Orange, which will see its browser pre-loaded on Android phones in Africa and the Middle East.
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According to the Wall Street Journal, the co-branded product won’t just be a standard edition of Baidu’s fast browser, but one that has been customised for Orange users and which will be available in Arabic at launch (French and English language support will be added later).
The deal, which hopes to capitalise on the rapidly expanding low-end smartphone market in emerging markets, will also see Baidu provide Orange with the network compression technology to reduce the amount of data sent to phones. The roll out of the smartphones will start in Egypt first, followed by the remaining 22 countries in the region.
Speaking about the deal, Orange’s VP of strategic partnerships Xavier Perret said “this partnership it is a pragmatic one; we develop customer stickiness and usage. For Baidu it is a way to get more knowledge of the market and enlarge their audience.”
Interestingly, Baidu will not be responsible for powering the service it is known best for — search — on Orange’s Android phones.
This isn’t the first partnership Orange has organised in a bid to reduce the costs incurred by its customers in Africa and the Middle East. The network also teamed up with Wikipedia to bring free access to the encyclopaedia to the region, and embarked on a quest to bring Facebook to every phone in Africa through a USSD system.