Thursday, November 02, 2006

Orange - mobile operator or something else?

Much of last weeks Orange partner camp was taken up with them telling their partner community about how they were now (or at least in the medium term) in the business of competing with the likes of Google, Yahoo!, and MSN.

At points the buzzwords were flowing thick and fast - "convergence", "web 2.0", "user generated content", etc. Some concrete progress to with the impending launch of their Pikeo location aware photo site. Also plenty of nice ideas somewhat further out for 3rd party mashups able to include various mobile network enablers such as billing, location and presence.

Given all of this I was quite surprised to read that in a slightly bizarre twist Orange have today announced they are closing down their one established bit of web community real estate - smartgroups.

So the question is what do Orange really want to be - a mobile telco or an Internet company which uses its control of various access routes (ISP, digital TV, mobile) to bring users to its various sites and services.

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