Chinese Internet giant Baidu is beginning a big push into emerging markets with the Egyptian launch this week of its Web browser for Android handsets, in partnership with mobile operator Orange.

The exclusive deal will see the two companies collaborate on rolling out a co-branded version of Baidu Browser in countries across Africa, the Middle East and Asia. France Telecom-owned Orange says that it is seeing growth in demand for Android amongst its 80 million customers across these markets – indeed, it reports that demand for Android doubled in Egypt during the second half of 2012 – and this move is designed to cater to increased demand for data services.

Baidu Browser launched in September last year, sporting a speedy new HTML5 and Javascript engine. The new, co-branded version is enhanced to give tight integration with Orange’s network. Data compression is built in, offering between 30 and 90 per cent reduction in data usage. The browser will come with preinstalled bookmarks for Orange and Baidu services, as well as popular third-party attractions like Wikipedia, Facebook and Twitter.

Orange Baidu Browser Mobinil preconfigured services screenshot 220x407 Orange brings Baidu’s speedy Android browser to Africa, Middle East and Asia, starting with Egypt      Orange Baidu Browser Mobinil splash page screenshot 220x407 Orange brings Baidu’s speedy Android browser to Africa, Middle East and Asia, starting with Egypt

Baidu opened a research center in Singapore last year as it looked to increasingly target markets outside its native China. It has invested heavily in developing services that support languages other than Chinese, with Arabic a particular focus. This makes Egypt a logical first port of call for the new partnership.

Already available in Arabic and English, a French version of the browser is in development. It will be distributed as a pre-installed app on Android devices sold by Orange, and available to existing customers via download.

Baidu Browser is available to customers of Orange’s MobiNil network in Egypt today, and it will be rolled out to more markets during 2013.

Image credit: AFP/Getty Images