Orange calls for telcos to shut out Apple, Google

The heads of Deutsche Telekom (T-Mobile), Telefonica, Orange and Vodafone will meet in Paris next month to discuss how they can get a slice of revenues from the burgeoning mobile internet market.

Stéphane Richard, CEO of Orange/France Telecom, has sent out gold-plated tickets to the heads of the main mobile telecom operators in Europe to meet in Paris on the 8th of October to discuss their options, he told French newspaper Le Figaro.

Richard speaks of the opportunity that Apple has created to build new revenue streams, and how mobile operators are in fact the victims of Apple's business model. He calls Apple's model a "Trojan horse", as it establishes direct relations between the content provider and the end user - cutting out mobile operators from the pocket-lining business.

Mobile operators have been, for the most part, happy to court new clients and sell wildly expensive mobile phones to the wealthy. So far, however, they've shown little or no interest in developing real services on their networks.

Now, however, as Apple's income goes through the roof, they're getting a taste of their own medicine... and they're not liking it.

In most of Europe, mobile operators are used to taking the lion's share of the revenue out of SMS and MMS, a revenue stream with almost no operating costs.

The meeting will determine the operators' course of action, and one of the key items on the agenda is the creation of an OS or platform that will shut out Apple.

It all sounds rather like empty bravado - not to mention naïve. Starting from scratch is, after all, not really an option.

But the mobile operators do have several other choices available to them. Off the top of our heads, Symbian, Bada... even Windows Phone 7, can be heavily customised and lock out Apple.

We just know Microsoft would be more than happy to make them all true believers.

The resulting deal will be somewhere in-between. Execs (French, in particular) are known to make a lot of noise as a means to an end, which is usually a compromise (ie: a cut of the action). It's usually much cheaper than actually pulling their thumbs out.

But whichever way they choose to go, Apple and Google will not be happy about it.

Ironically, Orange is Apple's biggest partner in Europe and hosts 70 per cent of all French iPhone users - but that won't be stopping it from releasing its own self-branded competitor to the iPad, based on the Samsung Galaxy. It remains to be seen how the two devices measure up.

We did mention the possibility of Samsung changing its strategy and starting ODM designs, and marketing the Galaxy tablet under the Orange brand might just be the tip of a very big iceberg.