At the recent 3GSMconference in Cannes, Orange received a battering from industry analysts. The company is relying too much on its brand, which is without a doubt one of the strongest in the industry.
However, as one of the analysts said:
The trouble is, Orange has begun to breathe its brand, and is in danger of hyperventilating.
In Cannes the company was raving about wireless controlled bath taps, voice-activated washing machines and uninterrupted videoconferencing. All this makes one wonder whether Orange is still in touch with reality.
The company has been talking up 3G, GPRS and WAP and still sees the wireless network as the holy grail of the telecommunications world. Others, such as Vodafone, have a far more realistic view of the world.
The comments of colleagues like Mark Newman from Global Mobile made me wonder about Hutchison, who are promoting the Orange brand in Australia. My reports on this service have run along similar lines. Since the major technology will remain GSM for at least this decade, we question the company’s wisdom in selecting the CDMA standard. Why create a marketing nightmare by first having to sell a technology before you can sell your product? The WLL strategy might be a great niche market technology, but wouldn’t warrant the investments made by the company.
Orange is now hyping up its GPRS network, telling us that this will be its next big thing, whereas a reality check will reveal that GPRS also will only support a niche market application. Not that there is anything wrong with that – but it would necessitate a realignment of business strategies, and I again would question whether the company’s current investment commitments can cope with this market reality.
Another line from the conference:
The company will have to connect today with tomorrow.
The Orange company internationally, and Hutchison in Australia, have proved to be strong and effective voice-centric mobile companies and their customer service is recognised as among the best in the industry. This is why customers like the brand, not for its grand visions. They have a great potential if they are indeed able to connect today with tomorrow.
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