The Naspers and TenCent owned social networking site Ibibo is planning to launch a mobile browser, called the “Ibibo iBrowser”, specifically for the Symbian S60 v3 and Java phones: m.ibibo.com/browser. Correct us if we’re wrong, but this is probably the first Indian Internet business to launch a browser. That said, digging into the ‘About’ section of the site reveals that the iBrowser is essentially the Tencent QQ Mobile browser. Tencent, the Chinese internet company, has a 10% stake in Ibibo (and an option to inrease its stake to up to 50%. However, Naspers treats Ibibo – MIH India as a joint venture with TenCent.

We downloaded the browser on the Nokia E71 and were greeted with a Homepage which was full of links to Ibibo’s services in addition to links for commonly used web sites including Yahoo, Facebook and Rediff, among others.

-Tabbed Navigation: The navigation tool bar features Bookmarks and Search buttons, and an address bar. The best part about the browser is its tabbed browsing interface, to browse multiple sites in different tabs at once and switch between them using a list.

– Search: The search button lets users choose between Google, Yahoo and Bing search engines (Nikhil adds: waitaminit…ibibo hasn’t launched its own search engine yet?)

– Data Compression, Data Tracking: It uses a compression technique to reduce data usage, just like the Opera browser. We don’t know if the websites go through TenCent servers or not but the company claims it reduces data costs by 85%. Opera makes similar claims. The iBrowser has a data tracker for checking the amount of data browsed in one session.

– Download manager: It also has some interesting features like full-screen browsing, a download manager to pause and resume downloads and most interestingly.

– Skinnable, Dark Mode: The Series 60 browser is also skinnable and has a dark mode (Screenshot-4) for night time usage for less eye-strain. The ability to skin the browser might allow ibibo to sell branded skins to advertisers.

– Pre-fetch, Copypaste, Images: One can also turn off images, copy and paste text and URLs (even in the Java version) and set the browser to pre-fetch websites.

It appears to be a great product. However, it’s unlikely to benefit Ibibo unless it has plans to promote the product aggressively (which it does for quite a products), in which case it will have to compete with the likes of Opera. Or it could ink a deal with a phone manufacturer, perhaps an Indian phone maker like Micromax to pre-embed the browser.

The advantage that ibibo has, is that it has TenCent’s products available for launch in India, in order to try and drive usage. The challenge, though, is in driving revenues, in the face of apparently substantial marketing expenses.

(with inputs from Nikhil Pahwa)

Related:
Ibibo Launches Fantasy Cricket Game CricEx; CEO Ashish Kashyap On Monetization, Mobile Games
Rohit Sawhney Joins Ibibo As Head Of Mobile
Naspers Invested Over $10 M In Ibibo In FY10; Goibibo $1M Per Month; Payments Platform?
– First Look At Ibibo Mail And Messenger; Bixee – A Meta Search Brand? Bixee CrawlX
– TenCent To Invest $7.5M In MIH India Over 3 Years; Can Acquire Upto 50 Pc Stake