Global mobile communications software and technology giants Bitstream see the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa as a perfect platform to expand its influence in Africa and beyond.

Nigeria is currently Africa’s biggest user of Bitstream’s flagship product – BOLT mobile browser – and once the football extravaganza hits the continent in June and July, the impact should be felt far and wide, says award-winning Anna Chagnon, CEO of Bitstream, in an interview with

“Africa is a very interesting market for BOLT. Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa have been in the top 20 countries for BOLT usage, and Nigeria is typically in the top 10. Nigeria is the eighth largest country in the world and is modernizing itself quickly,” said Chagnon, named 2009 Best Executive in the Stevie Wards for Women in Business.

Anna Chagnon

“With respect to the World Cup, we absolutely believe BOLT will have an impact for fans. As we have seen in other parts of the world in other major sporting, political or cultural events, people turn to their mobile phones for instantaneous information and news.

“No other platform aside from mobile offers this ability to connect from wherever a person is and retrieve the information one wants. We have also seen that sport related content is among the most popular, so we fully expect that BOLT will play a role at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, the 2011 World Cup of Cricket in India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and many others,” said Chagnon.

Nigeria Vision 2020

The Nigerian government has put in place a plan called “Nigeria Vision
2020”, which aims to put a large percentage of its population on the internet by the year 2020. Given that internet infrastructure and the computers to access it are rather costly, observed Chagnon, mobile has become the access method of choice.

Nigeria’s telecom market is now larger than South Africa’s.

The BOLT mobile browser is indeed a hit on the world market as evidenced by the product winning the 2009 Tech Awards Circle and clinching the bronze award for the Best Consumer/SOHO Software.

And what has been the secret behind the success of this browser?

“BOLT’s success is predicated on a number of factors, but fundamentally begins with designing an application to address the unmet needs of mobile users around the world. BOLT is built to work on the widest number of phones in the market. We estimate that more than three billion phones in the market today could install and use BOLT,” said Chagnon.

“We began with a set of features we knew would be popular, such as displaying Web pages just as they would appear on a desktop computer, streaming video and quick downloading of content.

“During our beta testing period, where we had over one million downloads, we created a number of mechanisms (e.g. online forum, Twitter, Facebook, blog comments, etc.) to listen to and interact with our user base. By the time we exited our beta testing period, we had built into BOLT a number of features that were driven directly by users’ input. As a result we’ve seen a sharp increase in downloads – now approaching three million – since the summer because BOLT is the mobile browser that best addresses the market’s needs,” she added.

Since 1983, its award winning font technologies have been enabling device manufacturers and application developers to render the highest quality text in any language, on any device, at any resolution.

Mobile User Experience Conference

Headquartered in Marlborough, the United States and with offices around the world, Bitstream showcased its products at the Mobile User Experience Conference in London in November 2009 and used the occasion to share ideas with other players in the mobile industry.

“We believe it is important to create the best mobile user experience possible. The Mobile User Experience Conference gave us the ability to learn from our well respected colleagues in the industry the best practices for building an easy-to-use yet robust user interface for BOLT.

“The user interface of a mobile browser is critically important to individuals who browse the web on mobile devices and we continually strive to improve all facets of it so that BOLT users will have the best mobile browsing experience on the market today,” said Chagnon.

Bitstream has expertise in font rendering, and its font technologies are used in all forms of consumer electronics, including video games, televisión sets, computers, mobile handsets and more.

“We have worked hard to innovate and create new technologies that display crisp text on even the smallest screens. Since some of our competitors in different industry sectors have reached out to us to use our technologies for rendering fonts on their software, we believe we’re impacting the ability to make reading easier in digital content.

“Our expertise in rendering fonts has led to innovations in rendering graphics and images too. Perhaps the biggest compliment we’ve received for BOLT – one we’ve received in numerous product reviews – is that it is able to deliver the most faithful rendering of Web pages and graphics than any other browser in our class. As a fundamental element in browsing, achúrate page rendering is more important than any other feature, including speed and we see other companies trying to follow our lead in this regard,” said Chagnon.

BOLT 1.6 Availability

In December 2009, Bitstream announced the availability of BOLT 1.6, "the most fully-featured mobile browser available for mobile phones of all types."

BOLT 1.6 outscores competing mobile browsers earning a perfect 100 percent on the Web Standards Project’s Acid3 test. The Acid3 test, created to help browser vendors ensure proper support for Web standards in their products, tests Web 2.0 dynamic Web applications and visual rendering, including Web fonts.

According to Bitstreams, for all mobile data networks that support it, BOLT 1.6 now offers full socket-based connectivity which can increase the page rendering speed of BOLT by as much as 15 percent.

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