The deal is exclusive for one year and will mean that France Telecom will be promoting the co-branded, customized Orange-Baidu Browser to its existing 75 million customers and new users in the region. Orange has operations in 20 countries in AMEA (Africa, Middle East and Asia), including Egypt, Iraq, Morocco, Kenya, and the Ivory Coast. The aim is to take the total number of users in the region to 300 million, with sales of €7 billion ($9.4 billion) by 2015, according to Marc Rennard, SVP of Orange in AMEA. The browser will be localized for each market, the company says.
This deal is a lot more important than it may at first appear:
- Watch for the carriers globally to use Android Forks to recreate the Deck* economies that they enjoyed before the iPhone disrupted their power. Apple needs to return to a serious innovation mode if they are going to delay this, and Google’s apps are specifically not included. [Lumatic does aspire to be the maps in many of these situations.]
- Orange is pushing the mobile web hard in this configuration and needs to. Huge app downloads in Africa are not always practical, nor are the high bandwidth connections that they need often need to maintain. Plus, app content/visuals are more difficult to store in CDNs than web apps (assuming that 2012’s burst of African CDN press releases come to anything).
- Baidu is building internet infrastructure in Africa. Per this quote from the same article, it’s tough to imagine that Baidu’s China-resident compression infrastructure is going to be used for Orange in Africa:
It had spoken to “all the big browser companies” one person close to the situation told me, which included Opera and Mozilla. Baidu won because it offered the fastest browsing with the lowest data consumption, with data compression up to 90 percent in some cases — important in a market where users are especially cost-sensitive and most of the data traffic will happen over metered 3G rather than Wi-Fi networks.
*From the Mobile Marketing Association’s Glossary, a Deck is a browseable portal of links to content [and apps], pre-configured usually by the network operator, and set as the default home page to the phone’s browser.