Orange France ups iPhone war with mobile TV launch, and opens App store

Still smarting from the decision by the French courts that its deal with Apple for iPhone exclusivity breached anti-competition rules, Orange is planning to change the rules of engagement by launching an iPhone-based mobile TV service. The company hopes the move will put SFR and Bouygues Telecom, which plan to offer the iPhone this month, on the defensive.

The Orange mobile TV service, the first offered on an iPhone, will include 64 channels. Around 20 of these channels will be freely available to subscribers paying at least €42 a month for the iPhone, but to access all 64 Orange TV channels, users must pay an additional €9 a month. Orange said the mobile TV application, which was developed internally, will be available for download from its new App store as of 7 April.

The mention of an App store, or as Orange insists--App Shop--is another new venture for the company, albeit that the service will again only be available in France later this year. However, the company claims the "Shop" will offer "tried and tested" apps for all its handsets including those using Symbian, Windows Mobile OSs and the iPhone. Download apps will be added to subscribers' phone bills.

What remains unanswered is how the Orange Shop will be greeted by Apple, Nokia and RIM, given that these handset vendors are heavily promoting their own App stores. The company is reported to be discussing with both Nokia and RIM about how it can integrate its App Shop with their App store offerings. Also of note is Orange's interest in opening its Shop service to users of Java-based phones. The company claims these particular handsets would only display applications for download that were compatible with the model in question, and Orange aims to simplify the process by dropping each download into a "My Application" folder.

For more on this story:
Total Telecom
, Pocket-Lint and RapidTV

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