Chinese search engine Baidu has reportedly secured a deal with France Telecom to provide its mobile browser for smartphones sold by the operator in Africa and the Middle East.
France Telecom’s Orange brand will pre-install the Baidu browser onto its Android-based smartphones sold in the region, where it has almost 80 million customers. The deal will cover 19 countries and is exclusive for one year, according to TechCrunch.
AllThingsD reports that the browser is designed to compress data and provide bookmarks to different web services. The service is now available in Arabic and English for customers that already own an Android device. A French version is due soon.
Orange is the third-largest operator in Africa and France Telecom is aiming to provide customers with their first access to the internet via their phones. The operator told the Financial Times that the Baidu deal is aimed at driving mobile data adoption in the region.
France Telecom aims to double revenue from emerging markets to EUR7 billion by 2015 and is focusing its efforts on expanding in French-speaking markets in west Africa, including commercial management agreements where there are state-owned operators.
The Financial Times reports that the deal is the first global operator agreement struck by Baidu and the company said it was one of its biggest strategic moves outside of China so far.
Baidu’s Android search engine was launched in September while the company has expanded internationally with a search engine in Japan and a web navigator application in Thailand, Egypt and Brazil.