By enabling users of its Libon messaging app to chat to anyone in their address book with an HTML5 browser, Orange is looking to “take the OTT approach and build a business model around the operator side”, according to Giles Corbett, head of Libon at Orange.
Until now, cut-price international calls have been the principal lure for users of Orange’s Libon messaging app, said Corbett. But the operator now wants to drive uptake by making it possible for users to chat with people that do not even have Libon installed.
“Faced with competition from WhatsApp and Viber, Orange is looking to profitably re-establish ourselves,” Corbett told Mobile World Live during Mobile World Congress.
Even though the Libon app is free, Orange has been using it to drive revenue. In France for €5 per month, customers of SOSH, Orange’s low-cost brand, can use Libon to make unlimited calls to 41 destinations.
As a result “we are acquiring new customers; a survey of 800 users showed that 25 per cent of SOSH users had joined to take advantage of the offer,” noted Corbett.
Orange has also used the Libon platform to quickly respond to new services from competing operators.
“When [French operator] Bouygues announced it would innovate on the roaming tariff and you could call France for free, with Libon in a few days we could create a similar offer,” said Corbett.
And Orange claims the launch of the service has resulted in a drop in the use of other messaging services. “There was a 79 per cent decline in the use of Viber,” said Corbett
Orange is now under discussions with other operators to licence and adapt Libon, which is available via the app store in more than 100 countries.
The company also said recently that Libon will become the group’s consumer app for rich communications. Although joyn is built into Libon, customers do not need joyn-equipped devices to use it. “As networks roll out, joyn will switch on,” said Corbett.