Nokia India has partnered with Bharti Airtel to install a customized Nokia Xpress Browser for Airtel consumers on compatible Nokia mobile phones , reports Silicon India, saying that the browser will be rolled out over the coming week and Nokia-Airtel consumers will be automatically upgraded to the new version. We wrote to Nokia India for a confirmation, but haven’t heard back from them.
Airtel had inked similar deals with Opera Software to offer a customized Opera Mini mobile web browser to its subscribers across India. Opera had also inked a similar deal with Idea, Tata Indicom and MTS in India, and Vodafone in India, South Africa, Turkey, Tanzania and Egypt, to push its browser.
Nokia Xpress Browser (formerly Nokia Browser for Series 40) is a cloud assisted proxy browser that compresses websites data on their server before sending to the browser. It essentially optimizes bandwidth when delivering web content to budget phones including Nokia Series 40 and Asha devices. The browser operates on same principles of Opera Mini browser. It supports mobile form factors including touch screen, QWERTY, non-touch, and touch-and-type devices. In the statement released by Nokia, it has stated that the Xpress Browser is and will be pre-loaded on all current and future Nokia Series 40 devices, while users of existing compatible devices can download it from the Nokia Store. The browser is available in 87 languages in over 200 countries and territories.
Prior to launching the Nokia Xpress Browser, Nokia India used to pre-install Opera Mini browser on select Nokia handsets.
In Q4-2012 results, Nokia had reported that it sold 9.3 million Nokia Asha devices. It’s worth noting that out of the 86 million handsets sold by Nokia during Q4-2012, more than half are either feature phones or low end devices.
Recently, Nokia confirmed that the Xpress Browser used on its Asha and Lumia handsets route HTTPS traffic via its servers, temporarily decrypting it, reports Gigaom. However, Nokia claims that it doesn’t access the decrypted information.
Nokia also claimed that in the year 2012, the number of Nokia Xpress Browser users on Airtel’s network quadrupled and average data consumption per user tripled during the same period.
Since many people are now experiencing Internet on their mobile for the first time, it makes sense to provide a browser that compresses data while delivering content. Specially when Airtel and other major telcos in India have chosen to increase 2G data rates in last couple of weeks. Recently, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea hiked up 2G data tariffs by almost 30 percent to cover costs and improve margins. For consumers, since the 2G data tariffs have been increased, it might be essential to use such data compression tools. However, I’ve not crossed the 1GB 2G data limit that comes with the monthly 2G plans. Nevertheless, for users who use their Nokia feature phone devices to downloads music from Nokia Music or view videos, the browser compression technology might at the least take off the data consumption burden from browsing. Nokia claims (.pdf) that the browser uses cloud-acceleration which compresses the information up to 90%.
Nokia had introduced a new Nokia Nearby web app as an extension of its Xpress Browser, which allows users to search for nearby places and view them on a map. It also launched Nokia Xpress Web App Builder which is essentially a web-based tool which allows publishers to build web apps for Asha touch devices.