Orange Gets Cozy
By Carlo Longino, Thu Sep 16 21:15:00 GMT 2004

Realizing mobile data's no good without applications and services, Orange is making moves to draw in developers and content providers.

European carrier Orange made a couple of moves this week to attract content and application providers to its network this week, first holding a "Code Camp" for developers to help them get applications to Orange users, then announcing it would open part of its Orange World portal to third-party content providers.

Orange came up with the Code Camp after focus groups indicated developers weren't too happy with their interaction with operators, and the different platforms and policies they have to negotiate to get their applications on networks was difficult. The camp, held this week in Poitiers, France, brought developers together with Orange representatives, as well as developer support personnel from a number of mobile platforms and manufacturers. In addition to the camp, Orange is making one point of contact for developers worldwide, and standardizing the back ends of its various country networks.

In opening its WAP portal, Orange UK will let content providers be linked from Orange World after meeting certain content guidelines, and let the providers use the Orange Kiosk WAP billing system. One of the carrier's execs told New Media Age that open access is "key" to the portal's future, offering users a wide array of content choices.

The two moves would indicate that Orange gets it -- the company has realized it doesn't have to be the sole arbiter and seller of content and services to its users, and that it stands to gain from facilitating the success of third-party providers. It's still quite early to see how the whole ecosystem develops, but it would be surprising if Orange tried to impose onerous revenue-sharing terms or other roadblocks. Carriers, like Orange, that do things to ensure their users have the maximum amount of freedom and choice, will be the most successful. Creating an environment where they share the spoils with third-party providers will further help.