Orange throws content partners a lifeline

Following T-Mobile's lead...

Following T-Mobile's lead...

Orange announced its plans for the future of mobile data, announcing that thousands of content providers will be able to make use of its billing platform. Orange will continue to provide the core of its content in-house through its Orange World service, but a further group of around 1,000 "contributing partners" will be able to use Orange's billing platform to charge their customers for content. AOL and Yahoo! are likely to be among the first wave of partners announced later this year, according to Orange's executive vice president for Orange World and Brand Richard Brennan. A similar revenue sharing system is widely believed to be one of the keys to the success of iMode, the mobile data service operated by NTT DoCoMo which has attracted over 20 million subscribers. It allows a host of independent wireless content providers to build a successful business model, allowing their users to make micropayments using mobile operators' billing platform. This move follows a similar announcement from Orange's rival T-Mobil, which operates the UK's One2One service. Orange will charge a commission on all the payments made through its system by contributing partners. The level of charges will be between the 50 per cent charged by T-Mobil and the 9 per cent charge levied by NTT DoCoMo, but it will be negotiated on an individual basis. Richard Brennan said: "I think DoCoMo's charges are too low. They have managed to get a lot of users, but they don't make a lot of money from them." Mobile content providers will be able to use the billing platform launched by Orange's Denmark subsidiary in June.