Orange, Twitter sign European partnership – tweets by SMS just the start, Twitter on TV could follow

twitter-orangeSocial Networking continues to be the killer app for mobile and Twitter is no exception. Loved by both handset makers and mobile networks alike, the microblogging service is seen as a potential driver in selling more expensive handsets and those potentially lucrative data plans. It’s therefore not all that surprising to learn that Orange and Twitter have formed what’s being described as a “pan-European partnership”, although for now UK customers-only are to benefit.

Starting today, Orange UK customer can send and receive tweets by SMS to and from their followers, and in a world first, also share photos on Twitter via the carrier’s Multmedia Messaging Service (MMS) as part of its newly launched ‘Snapshot‘ service – sort of like an Orange-branded TwitPic or similar sites. This additional Twitter functionality is to be included in customers’ existing plans and won’t cost any more aside from standard charges for sending an SMS or MMS outside of any included bundle.

However, SMS and MMS integration is just the start, say Orange. The telco, which operates as a quad-play in some countries (IPTV, fixed line, mobile and broadband), plans to work with Twitter to “create a range of simple but innovative new services” right across its offerings. One idea is to put Twitter on the television through ‘interactive’ Twitter feeds that appear alongside particular TV programs. For those of us who regular follower Twitter during shows like the UK’s X-Factor, this may make some sense. Although similar experiments in the US haven’t been universally well received.

Readers may remember that back in March, Vodafone UK ‘restored‘ the ability for customers to send and receive Tweets by SMS, although it didn’t launch without a few glitches.

France, Spain and Poland will follow Orange customers in the UK in 2009, with the remaining Orange networks in the rest of the world receiving Twitter functionality sometime in 2010.