Like all other traditional telecom operators, Orange is under pressure from its traditional rivals -- most notably Iliad (Euronext: ILD) (best known for its Free brand) in recent times -- and Web services players that regard anyone and everyone connected to the Internet as potential users of their over-the-top (OTT) applications. (See Euronews: FT's Q1 Suffers Free Fall and Euronews: Iliad's Clogging Our Network, Says FT.)
But what exactly passes for "major innovations" at a Tier 1 telco such as Orange? It's a mixed bag that's for sure: If a startup took the majority of these "innovations" to investors or analysts, they'd likely be shown the door before the end of their presentation.
But "innovation" means something different in telco-land: It usually means 'doing something we haven't done before.'
Even by that criterion, some of these new services don't cut it.
But we'll use that interpretation of "innovation" to take a look at what Orange is lining up for its French customers, starting with the services that don't really register on the innovation scale:
While those services will attract customer uptake, they're not really pushing any boundaries. The following offers, though, are more deserving of the "innovation" label.
The standout development there is the development with Facebook, though we'll have to wait another six months or so to see how that plays out.
Six months is a very long time in this market, though. During that time, what else will be developed for Facebook-based voice communications by Web-savvy startups building from Facebook APIs? And what might be available from the WebRTC development community? (See TEF Digital's TokBox Does Video Chat for iOS and OTT Services Provide New Opportunities for SDP Vendors.)
Orange appears to be moving faster, but it may not be fast enough.
— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading