3GSM: Orange targets SMBs with mobile apps

European mobile phone operator Orange SA has launched a new mobile application portal to reach out to small businesses.

The Business Mobile Applications portal is targeted at small and medium-size businesses (SMBs) and allows them to download programs such as CRM (customer relationship management), sales force automation and project management, tailored for mobile use, said Cynthia Gordon, vice president of business marketing at Orange.

The portal (http://www.orange-applications.com) was launched earlier this week at the 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona.

Currently, the service is available to users in Belgium and the U.K., with France to come online in the second quarter, according to Gordon.

The software is provided through partners, who also offer support, and is designed to run on a range of mobile devices provided by Orange.

Users can download programs from the portal to their mobile devices or PCs. As part of the service, they can demo a product and, after a set period, purchase it directly from the software partner.

The software vendors and Orange have no revenue-sharing agreement, Gordon said.

"The portal is a way for us to learn what SMB customers want," Gordon said. "As an operator, we benefit from increasing data traffic over our networks."

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