MoboTap‘s popular Dolphin Browser has racked up over 16 million downloads worldwide, but that hasn’t stopped them from taking steps to expand internationally.
The company announced earlier this morning that they have entered into a new agreement with Japanese wireless carrier KDDI that will see their browser pre-loaded on a number of new Android handsets going forward.
KDDI is Japan’s second-largest wireless carrier with nearly 35 million subscribers under their belts, with just about 20% of those users owning smartphones. All things considered, it’s a big chance for MoboTap to bolster their brand outside the confines of the United States.
MoboTap and Dolphin are no strangers to the Japanese market — they teamed up with Softbank in 2011 — but MoboTap views this new partnership with KDDI as a critical part of their international expansion plans for 2012. MoboTap marketing head Edith Yeung tells me a deal like this has been a long time coming (representatives from the two companies first met at Disrupt 2011), and that they are “putting a lot of energy” into making a similar splash in markets like China and South Korea.
It’s worth noting that KDDI handles new handset releases a little differently than we do here in the States. Instead of unveiling new handsets in drips and drabs, the carrier reveals all the phones they will release within that period all at once every season — their Summer 2012 collection was just revealed last night, and I’m told that some of those devices will be the first to ship with the Dolphin browser pre-loaded.
But why Dolphin? What was wrong with the stock Android browser? According to Kazuhito Shimizu, KDDI’s head of U.S. operations, customization was their main concern. By loading up Dolphin’s default list of bookmarks with links to their own services, KDDI hopes that they’ll have a better handle on the end-to-end user experience.
“We believe that the browser will be the first touchpoint for the customer to access our services and content,” Shimizu said.
Dolphin and KDDI aren’t exactly strangers to each other at this point — the popular third-party browser was added to KDDI’s au Smart Pass subscription app service back in March, with a handful of Japanese tweaks in tow. Sadly, among those tweaks is the exclusion of their recently-revealed Sonar voice-controlled browsing feature, though I’m told MoboTap is currently working on getting Japanese support up and running before too long.