France Telecom partners with Baidu

14 January 2013 | Kavit Majithia


China’s answer to Google, Baidu, is to embark on its largest international expansion to date by providing access to the browser across Africa and the Middle East to smartphones sold by France Telecom.

The mobile service will be installed by France on Baidu-based mobile browsers for Android customers in Africa and the Middle East, as part of the operator’s wider expansion in the region.

France Telecom views Africa with huge potential, and considers the deal with Baidu central to increasing data usage in markets where Orange has seen demand increase via smartphone adoption.

Baidu’s deal with France Telecom marks its biggest strategic move outside of China to date. “We see the Middle East and North Africa region as particularly important for Baidu,” said the company. “(it holds) particular significance because of the rapidity of the shift towards the use of mobile internet – especially in developing markets where fixed-line penetration remains low.”

Mobile penetration in Africa varies greatly, with rates of 17% in Democratic Republic of Congo and 102% in Tunisia, with the potential for growth in many markets.

France Telecom continues its aggressive expansion strategy in emerging markets with this deal, as part of its aim to double emerging market revenues to €7 billion by 2015.