Friday, May 23, 2008

Orange and Nokia to co-operate on services

Orange and Nokia today announced a three year strategic international partnership on mobile services. The two companies will work together to provider users with an offering of music, games, advertising, maps and location based services. The relationship will see 10 Nokia handsets added to the Orange Signature range with services integrated into the familiar Orange user interface.

This follows on from Orange and Nokia's February announcement around the use of S60 in the Orange Signature Acceleration program. The Signature Acceleration program uses S60, as one of Orange's preferred software platforms, to create an industrialised package, containing consisting of a 'Orange version' of S60 (customised UI, themes, services and applications), that can then be used on all S60 handsets that Orange chooses to offer to its customers.

This new agreement will likely see services such as Orange Music, N-Gage, Orange Games and Nokia Maps become part of the Orange Signature Acceleration program (S60 version).

The aim behind both agreements is to introduce a suite of software services to customers in an efficient and cost effective manor. By using standard software platforms and service suites the companies can lower testing costs and reduce time to market.

The announcement continues a trend of synergistic partnerships between Nokia and network operators to deliver new software and services to customers. These combines Nokia's own services (gathered under the Ovi brand) together with the operator's own offerings. For example, in the case of Orange it seems that, on the handset at least, Orange Music will stand in place of Nokia Music while Orange Games and N-Gage will co-exist and location services will be provided through Nokia Maps. Nokia and Orange have also indicated that other services may be inlcuded in the future.

This hybrid model of manufacturer and operator is likely to be the most common way the next generation of software and services are delivered to the mass market of consumers. It also contrasts with some of the initial operator scepticism around Ovi directly after its launch last year.

One intriguing statistic is that the two companies plan to create 10 million active Mobile Maps on Nokia devices within the Orange footprint by 2010. By way of comparison Orange's current customer base is 163 million and while this will grow by 2010, 10 million will still be a significant portion of the user base. This underlines how significant mapping and location services are likely to become in the next year.

Orange and Nokia have agreed to launch a suite of integrated multimedia services on the new Nokia handsets, launching in H208 across nine major markets, in an initiative designed to boost the adoption of mobile digital entertainment. As part of the strategic partnership, customers will have direct access to the Orange Music Store, both Orange and NGage games, as well as Nokia Maps. Under the Orange Signature programme, all services will be integrated into the familiar Orange user interface, providing one click access to information and entertainment.

"This collaboration underlines Orange's drive to create strategic partnerships that will give customers the best possible mobile multimedia experience in the simplest way," said Olaf Swantee, EVP of Orange's Personal Communications Services. "Combined with our leadership in mobile multimedia innovation and relationships with leading content providers, Orange believes that Nokia's devices and Ovi platform will make a powerful environment for the provision of a joint range of services," added Georges Penalver, EVP of Orange's Group Strategic Marketing.

"We are pleased to create this strategic partnership with Orange and believe that the combination of Signature and Ovi services will extend and enrich consumer choice," said Kai Öistämö, EVP, Devices, Nokia. "We also expect our close collaboration to extend beyond the initial focus areas of music, games, maps and advertising to include other services over time."

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