Opera Software today announced that it has acquired Brazil-based Bemobi, the maker of Apps Club, a subscription-based marketplace for highly rated Android apps that people in emerging markets can easily access. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

Apps Club showcases mobile apps in a way that’s different from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. Rather than look the same on all Android or iOS devices, the Apps Club shows up on certain mobile devices as a result of partnerships with mobile carriers and device makers. Partners include Telefonica, Samsung, and Positivo. Device owners don’t pay for apps through the Apps Club. Instead, the system is integrated into carrier billing systems.

The model has gotten traction: Bemobi has accumulated more than 6 million active subscribers. Now Opera wants to build on that.

“The combination of Bemobi’s industry leading service with Opera’s global footprint, existing carrier and handset manufacturer relationships and app-distribution capabilities, allows Opera to bring innovative app-discovery and monetization services across the globe and position Opera as the global leader in this space,” Opera said in a statement on the deal.

Given Bemobi’s success thus far, it’s a bit surprising that Google itself isn’t the company acquiring Bemobi. Google definitely wants to grow Android usage in emerging markets. Its Android One campaign, announced at the 2014 Google I/O conference, has that goal in mind, but it has largely targeted Asian countries, including India, Pakistan, Thailand, and Myanmar. Bemobi, meanwhile, has been more focused on Latin America.

Norway-based Opera, which pushes a widely used mobile and desktop Internet browser, has already bought into the subscription model for mobile app discovery. The company’s Subscription Mobile Store launched in November.

Bemobi started in 2000; chief executive Pedro Ripper will continue to operate the business, according to today’s statement.

Previous Opera acquisitions include AdColony, Mobilike, and SurfEasy.


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