Web browser maker Maxthon has announced a partnership with Rolltech, the value-added services arm of MediaTek, the third largest global supplier of chipsets used in Android smartphones. The deal means that in 2014 Maxthon’s mobile browser will be preloaded onto upwards of 100 million smartphones and tablets made by manufacturers such as LGE, ZTE, TCL/Alcatel, Gionee, Phillips, Techain, Konka, Lenovo Mobile, CKT and LavaMobile.
“It’s a very broad and diverse list of OEMs, so when you look at where these devices will end up, that is what is most exciting to us,” says Karl Mattson, vice president of Maxthon’s International Division. “We’re talking about Russia, China, most of Latin America, as well as some very interesting markets in Indonesia and Thailand.”
Based in Taiwan, MediaTek has rapidly grabbed market share away from other smartphone app processor makers such as Qualcomm and Samsung by providing manufacturers with the chips, instructions and software that they need to quickly and cheaply bring devices to market. Rolltech, MediaTek’s software licensing arm, helps OEMs customize and preload software and services onto mobile devices, allowing them to add value to smartphones and tablets without further eroding into their already slim margins.
Preloading its browser onto devices sold in emerging markets is a crucial part of Maxthon’s growth strategy and the deal with MediaTek will significantly enlarge the Beijing-based company’s user base, which is currently 120 million people per month in more than 150 countries. Maxthon hopes to gain scale against competitors such as UCWeb, Opera and Firefox by grabbing a strong foothold in markets that currently have low Internet penetration, meaning that most users haven’t yet developed brand loyalty to specific mobile browsers.
“The significance of our MediaTek relationship is twofold. One is that it obviously represents many new potential customers. But it is also very significant for us strategically in that it gives us heavy, heavy distribution in the markets we know we want to grow in. In the longer term, we know these markets will be where the next billion [Internet users] come from,” says Mattson.
Maxthon designs its Chromium-based browser so it can be easily localized to suit the Web usage habits of its various target markets. For example, MMORPG games are especially popular in Thailand, while Brazilians use a wider variety of social media networks than people in other countries. Maxthon’s cloud-based browser means that users with accounts can access their content across different platforms, adding further incentive for them to stick with Maxthon when moving between their smartphones, tablets and PCs.
“One thing that we just launched is a really robust smartphone experience in the browser that allows us to aggregate content, services and video in a very specific market-by-market way that will allow users to do things like off-line reading and viewing, and keep that customized experience with them even when using other devices,” says Mattson.