Blog Post

Orange CEO On Competing With Google, The iPad And More

Today, Orange’s CEO Stephane Richard sat down for a Q&A at the LeWeb conference in Paris, where he talked about the iPad, smartphone sales, mobile data pricing and mobile advertising. Here are some of the highlights via our tweets:

We’re not sharing targets for iPad sales but we are selling them at an affordable price. It will be a nice opportunity for the Geeks in Europe.” No surprises on not sharing sales targets for the subsidised devices – Orange and other operators are now selling them with reductions of more than 50 percent on Apple’s prices when purchased with a contract – but despite Richard saying the subsidies will give “Geeks” a chance to buy into the new device, it’s very much aimed at being a mass-market device as evidenced by the large retail store effort for the device. (See comment below)

Orange will be selling the iPad in France, UK and Spain, 10 countries in all.” This is new information: up to now the most publicity has been around the sales efforts in France and the UK. We’ve reached out to Orange to see what other countries will be included in the 10.

One out of three phones we sell is a smartphone.” Not all of those are iPhones. He noted that in fact iPhones make up 20 percent of sales – a huge number when you think of it. Ditto for the smartphones. This seems like a ratio that will only tip more in favor of smartphones as prices on devices continue to come down.

Mobile data traffic already absorbs more bandwidth than voice. In two years, there will be ten times more data than there is now.” Again, a remarkable statistic considering how only five years ago the bulk of data traffic was texting. This is of course the main driver behind operators needing to move to more efficient data networks.

Mobile operators are switching from unlimited to something more sophisticated.” This is confirmation of what we’re seeing across the board from mobile operators as they put caps on their all-you-can eat data plans. A lot of people note that the unfettered access to data was what was behind the big boom in mobile data usage in the first place. It will be interesting to see whether any mobile operators jump the gun and run back in the other direction, and compete for users by again offering them big data allowances.

We have no ambition to compete with Google (NSDQ: GOOG) [on advertising] but their dominance is not sustainable.” Erm, Orange has, of course, been trying to compete on advertising, purchasing digital ad agency Unanimis and, in mobile, trying to expand its mobile inventory via its own app store, among other initiatives. Leaving to one side whether or not Google will continue to dominate the mobile advertising space for some time to come, it’s almost certain that if it does continue to grow, European regulators will pay the company a visit.