Orange focuses on IoT in product showcase

Orange CEO Stephane Richard

Orange has announced a host of new products and services at its third annual hello show in Paris. The company seemed determined to address almost every aspect of modern life as it showcased some 20-odd products and product enhancements for “connected home, connected business and on-the-go.”

Many of the products have been developed in partnership with tech start-ups. Orange emphasised the importance of innovation, but said it needs to respond to customers’ needs. “I strongly believe all this innovation is only useful if it makes life more inspiring,” Stéphane Richard, CEO of Orange Group said in his opening presentation at the show, attended by

Some of the new products included the Polaris Project, which provides a unified screen across any and every screen a user has. In the ‘home’ sphere the company revealed Orange Homepoint, a platform that allows users to stream video and music from one device through to another, and get wifi access to all enabled devices at a press of a button. Users can also charge mobile devices through the applicane via USB or induction.

For business use the company unveiled My Office Phone, an app that allows users to have a corporate-type switchboard system via a smartphone. Stop&Work, another business product, aimed at freelances and remote workers, offers a set of functionalities including video conferencing over a high speed broadband connection. It also gives users access to a physical tele-centre with dedicated workspaces, as well as shared services and facilities.

“Orange is levelling the playing field between large and small companies,” Richard said.

Among the more everyday apps there were some more niche products too. One of these more unusual solutions was Pops, featuring a smart garment and smart wristband developed by start-up company Cityzen Sciences together with clothing and accessory brand Quicksilver.

Pops ‘connected’ garment can be used during exercise to monitor and store wearer’s physiological information, which is saved and accessed on a storage platform. The wristband receives messages in situations where the user can’t access their smartphone. Such a situation can apparently arise if you happen to be surfing for example but still want to read your messages as they arrive.

There were also products for mobile money transfers, payments and general personal banking management, as well as digital school app that allows teachers communicate with pupils through tablets.

With so many new products Orange cannot be accused of not trying. However, the question whether all these are necessary springs to mind as for some of the products there already is a perfectly good, device-agnostic alternative on the market. But Orange remains confident that they can offer value to customers.

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“Of course there are already GPS devices for example, but if you are in a car, you are playing with your mobile to have music and receive your messages, and you are using a separate GPS device for directions. We want to offer something that has everything in one,” Mari-Noëlle Jégo-Laveissière, Innovation Director for Orange, said. “What we want to propose to our customers is something that is fluid, easy [to use], accessible and has everything you need in one simple solution.”

“We have to change the culture. If you can save 10 minutes of your time a day with one solution, then I think that makes it worth it,” Luc Bretones, Orange Technocentre SVP said.

What seems to be underpinning all of Orange’s new products and strategy is the idea of digitalisation of both businesses and private lives as much as possible. Orange said it wants to transform its core business, including traditional services such as voice, into a ‘full digital experience’.

Orange’s concept for digitalisation and ‘everything connected’ is closely tied together with the Internet of Things (IoT). According to Orange, in 10 years’ time there will be some 600 million connected devices in France alone. Thus the Group’s corporate arm Orange Business Services is heavily focusing on IoT and what it calls the digital transformation of businesses. The idea is to bring together mobile, information, cloud and social, or MICS, as Orange put it.

“We would like to be in a pole position of our customers’ digital transformation journey,” Thierry Bonhomme, Senior Executive VP of Orange Business Services said.

Orange Business Services works in partnerships with companies across a number of industries, such as automotive, healthcare and retail. Hence it has created solutions, which it say will transform an ordinary car to a connected car, rid old fashioned barcodes from retail businesses and replace them with RFID, and enable elderly people to continue living at home equipped with smart devices that will alert help if needed.

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