France Telecom's Orange reportedly is interested in developing an iTunes like application store for content that could be played on a variety of devices, including TVs, personal computers and mobile devices. If you are an iPod or iPhone user, you can get TV content and other video content from the iTunes online store that will play on your handheld devices or on your PC, but so far, household TVs and set-top boxes have mostly been left out of the equation. And while IPTV service providers have started to express an interested in content sharing and the leveraging of online video sources, their retail sales philosophies have not yet wandered beyond their own direct marketing, brick-and-mortar stores, or partnerships with big-box retailers.
Orange's idea, reported at Telecoms.com, sounds like a pretty ambitious one-to create an open applications store, a distinctly un-Apple concept. The carrier will be holding a partner camp next week at Cape Canaveral in Florida, at which it will give further shape to the idea. It could be a huge, long-range project, taking up to two years to create and even longer to solidify in the minds of potential customers.
It's a project that most U.S. IPTV players would not want to pursue at this point because their IPTV acceptance, while strong, has not yet matured. Also, while a big telco like AT&T recently has made strides to portray itself as a convergent service provider, service convergence is a concept still in its infancy in the U.S. Orange doesn't have those weaknesses, being part of a company with both a mature, multi-country TV offering and an established fixed-mobile converged service strategy.
Still, that doesn't guarantee Orange's success in this endeavor. Apple has yet to conquer the TV world the way it has the world of walled-garden content for its own multimedia players, but neither have traditional telecom players, despite their ability to support massive customer bases, taken much of a bite out of Apple's core strength.
- Telecoms.com has the full report
France Telecom had 1.74 million TV subscribers as of the third quarter
Orange has wanted to offer TV services in the U.K. market