Nokia and France Telecom’s Orange announced a deal to launch integrated mobile content services on 10 Nokia handsets that will be part of Orange’s Signature range. The deal extends an agreement the two made in February, adding direct access to a mix of content from both Orange and Nokia, including 1-click access to the Orange Music Store, both Orange and N-Gage games and Nokia’s mapping service. The deal is set to last three years and will be rolled out across nine markets in the second half of the year.
Unlike Nokia’s other two mobile content carrier partners, Vodafone and T-Mobile, Orange has not agreed to fully embrace the handset maker’s push into content offerings, under its title Ovi. However, the two companies said new services would be added over time.
“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,” said Georges Penalver, executive vice president of Orange’s Group Strategic Marketing, in a statement.
While the deal is certainly good news for Nokia, research firm Global Insight worries that handset makers service offerings like Ovi could erode mobile operators position as mobile Internet portals.
“Nokia’s relentless push of its Ovi platform is part of a conscious push to muscle into the mobile Internet space…Although both Nokia and the mobile operators are keen to project these deals as a symbiotic partnership where both parties gain equally, Global Insight worries about the impact on the strategies of the mobile operators,” wrote Global Insight Telecoms analyst Emeka Obiodu. “Despite moving away from their ‘walled garden’ approach, operators still have a vested interest in keeping their own Web portal as the default pages on mobile handsets…Ovi and the growth in flat-rate data pricing could well convert mobile operators into bit carriers faster than they have planned.”