Orange working on ‘open’ contact management app

HTC Hero with Orange ON application

Orange is working on a new application that it claims will help consumers and business users alike manage their wealth of contacts in a way that is different to the likes of Facebook et al.

It will be available as a public beta from early next month and Orange plans to embed it in some handsets in 2010.

The ON application has been some 18 months in development and has involved boffins at Orange Valle, sociologists and engineers. In addition to letting users create worlds' that bring together different contacts, the app threads interactions with those people and brings together all their contact information in one place.

"The group recognised some time ago that some social networks and social network operators were a key issue and opportunity. [When it comes to communications], they're in our business and we're there too. We're not arrogant enough to try and replicate Facebook so we will play with them. We will compete and procreate with the large social networks," said Jean-Louis Constanza, head of Orange Valle.

He added: "2010 is going to be a very very strong year for us and we're going to lift the veil just slightly on 8 December."

With ON, which builds on the rich communications suite (RCS) that Orange is also working on to unite people with the five contacts they use the most, the mobile giant is trying to do something unique and innovative, according to Giles Corbett, iindependent advisor and project manager at Orange Valle.

"Everybody at the moment wants to bring the social internet into mobile devices. But the question we've been working with is How do I actually improve my communications experience for the people that matter?" he said.

He continued: "We all think that posting a Facebook status is simple. Actually, it's incredibly elitist. Most of us don't feel we have enough to say The second taboo is sadness. People in social networking environments tends to project an artificial view of themselves and their lives."

To this end, the idea behind ON or at least one aspect of it - is it lets you separate out your contacts into distinct groups by dragging and dropping. Contacts can be in multiple groups, say for example if your work colleague is also a good friend.

Maggie Holland

Maggie has been a journalist since 1999, starting her career as an editorial assistant on then-weekly magazine Computing, before working her way up to senior reporter level. In 2006, just weeks before ITPro was launched, Maggie joined Dennis Publishing as a reporter. Having worked her way up to editor of ITPro, she was appointed group editor of CloudPro and ITPro in April 2012. She became the editorial director and took responsibility for ChannelPro, in 2016.

Her areas of particular interest, aside from cloud, include management and C-level issues, the business value of technology, green and environmental issues and careers to name but a few.