OS ecosystems and operators: relationships that shape the customer experience

An operating system (OS) is the conductor of the orchestra of software that runs connected devices, from smartphones and TV boxes to PCs and voice assistants. OS developers make them the central core of ecosystems around which a whole range of actors gravitate, including operators such as Orange. Orange adapts its various relationships with operating systems on the basis of key guidelines, thus co-innovating and controlling the experience offered to its end customers.

The Orange/KaiOS partnership is a perfect example of the creativity and value that can be achieved through cooperation within OS ecosystems in order to meet the needs of users and achieve customised innovation.

The world of operating systems is a highly dynamic universe. Although the general public is familiar with operating systems thanks to the prominence of Microsoft Windows for PCs and Android for smartphones/tablets, the environment is constantly changing. Just 10 years ago, Symbian was the essential OS for smartphones with over 50% of the market.

In 2019, it is Android which can boast the most impressive continuing dominance, with over 80% of the global market share of mobile operating systems. The pre-eminence of certain developers and the specialisation of operating systems represent the market’s structural characteristics.

OS partner

Operating systems for mobile devices have historically constituted one of the most important segments of the market. Orange is fully integrated with the ecosystems that develop around flagship developers and has secured partnership relationships with Apple and Google.

Patrice Lozé, Director of Partnerships & Solutions within Orange’s Technology and Global Innovation Division, explains: “On the Android side in particular, many manufacturers coexist – Samsung, Huawei, LG, Oppo, Sony, etc. We work with them to understand the specific features and contributions of each, in order to optimise our services. In the connected PC segment, we are working with Microsoft Windows to ensure that Orange connectivity is properly embedded and streamlined in these devices.”

“In practice, this collaboration is multidimensional: in the Android ecosystem, Orange shares its expertise on bug fixing and the compatibility of its offers in order to ensure, for example, that the Orange Bank service will be properly secure when accessed via the SIM card.”

“The operator has also contributed significantly – with Google and manufacturers – to the development of a universal, natively integrated component for mobile devices for visual voicemail, which has so far been very limited.”

Essential collaborations for users: the KaiOS example

With the support of Orange, a new branch of the market has recently emerged in Middle East & Africa: “smart feature phones”.

“This market responds to a need to access smartphones at a competitive cost, democratising access to of users to Internet services, including YouTube and WhatsApp.” Orange entered into a partnership with KaiOS, which was already established in this market, in particular in India. The two groups developed an Orange-branded phone, Sanza, and structured an open, enriched ecosystem, including the most popular Orange offering (Orange Money, Orange and me, Orange radio, mobile TV, when available).

After the launch of the first 3G range in April 2019, a second range – Sanza XL – with 4G connectivity will be launched by the end of the year.

“The Orange/KaiOS partnership is a perfect example of the creativity and value of this type of cooperation, in which the operator interfaces with the end customer to meet their needs. It also shows how to respond to a market need and achieve customised innovation by bringing various players together, including Google and Facebook, in order to guarantee access to the best services.”

Sanza received an award on the 13th of November, in Cape Town, South Africa, in the AfricaCom event which gathers every year the media, tech and telco community of the African continent.

Voice assistants, eSIM, etc. are challenges for all segments

The increasing number of services and of the devices that support them reinforces the need to have operating systems capable of responding to all segments with high-performance solutions.

In addition to smart feature phones, actors are currently interested in three other market segments, each with its own challenges.

The first of these, described by Stéphane Raulin, Director of the Technologies Team within Orange’s Technology and Global Innovation Division, is that of voice assistants. “Orange has positioned itself in this segment by introducing Djingo, its virtual assistant, to its clients. More generally, as the use of several assistants seems to be becoming a major trend in homes, a key challenge is to make the “AI to AI” vision a reality, where different artificial intelligence applications can interact with one another.”

“The second major market concerns eSIMs. The priority here is to ensure that devices operated using integrated SIMs will be able to connect to Orange networks without any problems. We are increasing collaboration on this subject, with Apple and Samsung in particular for connected watch products, in order to refine our value proposition and optimise the customer experience associated with these devices.”

“To conclude, the final segment concerns the niche market of foldable screen products, the first models of which were presented by Samsung and Huawei at the 2019 Mobile World Congress. Again, Orange supports these new technologies by ensuring that they are optimised from the point of view of services for future users. We are also working on the eSIM aspect for these products: if a folding screen means a hardware constraint, then the eSIM format makes more sense.”

Through emphasising its role in OS ecosystems and collaborating upstream with the players that create them, Orange is strengthening its capacity to anticipate trends in order to optimise the end customer experience and respond to changes in services for customers. As it is a determining factor for the quality of connectivity and the optimisation of the services delivered, this cooperation will still be crucial with the arrival of 5G and its “super-connectivity”.

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