Earlier today I posted a story about how France Telecom-owned Orange today announced a “partnership” with Facebook for group calling service Party Call. The plan is for it to go live in France first next summer. I’ve now talked to Xaviet Perret, VP in charge of strategic partnerships at Orange, and he tells me a few more interesting details about the service.
Party Call is not an IP calling service similar to what Orange’s new VoIP service Libon, or Skype, offer. Instead, it routes calls directly to Orange’s voice network. As such, it becomes a bridge between the social network and legacy voice services to offer “group calling within the Facebook environment.”
This may be the first time that Facebook has been used in a link-up with a legacy phone service in such a way. Perret says Party Call was developed by “key developers both at Orange and Facebook.”
“When we approached Facebook with this idea they were pretty excited,” he says. “It’s different for them than just an application.”
It will work by way of a Facebook app, and those who want to use the service for group calling will need to download that app first. This means Facebook never learns your number — but Orange does.
Orange will first be promoting this service to its own customers, to “make it easier for orange customers to connect to others,” Perret says.
Orange is still working out how it will market Party Call, but eventually it will also be rolled out beyond Orange’s subscriber base. Perret says the plan is definitely to go international with this after initial rollout in France.
As I mentioned earlier, Orange has rolled out a number of interesting Facebook-related services, from carrier billing to making it easier to access Facebook on low-end mobile devices in emerging markets. It sounds like there is more on the cards.
While Perret said they are working with Facebook on a number of subjects, he declined to comment on rumors of a Facebook phone.
Yes, we still are none the wiser on whether Facebook will ever come out with the fabled Facebook phone. That’s a unicorn, says Mark Zuckerberg not in so many words. But whether Party Call is being led by Orange or Facebook (and here it is Orange in the driving seat), it nevertheless brings Facebook one step closer to the world of telephony services and how they are used to communicate. Integration is something that Zuckerberg does think is important: Mobile web is “huge” for the company, he said in September, and “no one is more integrated than [Facebook] on mobile web.”
Orange is a French Telecommuncations industry player whose mobile carrier system is prominent around Europe. The Group had sales of 53.5 billion euros in 2008 and a customer base of 186 million customers in 30 countries at 2009, June 30. Orange, the Group’s single brand for Internet, television and mobile services in the majority of countries where the company operates, now covers more than two-thirds of customers. At the end of June 2009, the Group had 125,5 million...
France Télécom is the main telecommunications company in France, the third-largest in Europe and one of the largest in the world
Facebook is the world’s largest social network, with over 1 billion monthly active users. Facebook was founded by Mark Zuckerberg in February 2004, initially as an exclusive network for Harvard students. It was a huge hit: in 2 weeks, half of the schools in the Boston area began demanding a Facebook network. Zuckerberg immediately recruited his friends Dustin Moskovitz, Chris Hughes, and Eduardo Saverin to help build Facebook, and within four months, Facebook added 30 more college networks. The original...