Orange Boss Praises Apple for iPhone, Criticizes App Store Control

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France Telecom CEO Stephane Richard thinks the world should be greatful to Apple for inventing what we think of today as a smartphone by introducing the iPhone. At the same time, however, the telco bigwig — France Telecom operates the Orange network in 15 countries — expressed concern about Apple’s control over App Store content, and suggested that Net Neutrality concepts ought to apply to more than just the pipes that carry the data.

France Telecom CEO Stephane Richard

France Telecom CEO Stephane Richard speaking at an EU symposium on Net Neutrality in 2010
Photo courtesy of Olivier Ezratty

Praise be to the iPhone

The comments came in a speech in San Francisco last week that was attended by AllThingsD. In that presentation, Mr. Richard spoke on a variety of topics concerning the smartphone business, including the value of Android, Apple’s contributions to the space, and the state of competition in the market.

“They just created smartphones with the iPhone,” Mr. Richard said about Apple. “Everybody should be grateful to them to have put such a product in our market.”

Mr. Richard is enough of a fan of the iPhone to use it himself, and during his talk he singled out Apple and Google’s Android platform as being the only two platforms his company works with that doesn’t have problems.

“I think [Android is] quite a solid and reliable operating system and doesn’t suffer with bugs,” the French executive said. “We have regularly problems with [Research In Motion]. We have no problem with Apple and with Android. Let’s be frank and clear.”

Still, he said not to count RIM out of the race, noting that the BlackBerry platform has a strong following in Europe. He also said that the risk with Google is whether the company begins to use point updates to Android, “as a weapon in their relationship with device manufacturers and indirectly with telcos.” So far, so good, on that front, however.

The power of control

He also fears Apple’s power to use the App Store as a weapon against telcos like his. Not only does he want to be able to sideload apps onto his customer’s iPhones — something all telcos want and most customers do not — he worries about the day when Apple keeps Orange (or another telco) from even offering an app they want their customers to have on the App Store.

“Everybody is talking about Net Neutrality,” Mr Richard said. “Net Neutrality is not only dealing with pipes. It also deals with management of application shops. If you have people like Apple managing their application store and saying ‘This is OK and I don’t want to see this app in my shop,’ it’s a problem.”

He stipulated that though Apple has been a tough negotiator when it comes to pursuing its business and operational interests, that his company and Apple have so far been able to work together to find soliutions. “We are not at war with the Apple guys,” he said.

Sideloading

Still, there’s that sideloading issue. Sideloading is the telco practice of installing software — apps in this case — on smartphones (or on PCs in the computer space) before the device is sold. There is often a fianancial transaction involved, or at least promotional considerations at play, though sometimes companies are trying to simply make the devices more attractive to consumers users by putting useful software on their smartphones (or PCs).

“Of course,” he said, denoting how matter-of-fact this is to him, “Ideally we would like to have those services embedded natively in the handset which is what we do with Android-based devices like with Samsung or HTC or people like that. It is not possible with Apple. We still are in a position to bring those apps to our customers through the app stores, provided clearly we have access to the App Store.”

“The problem,” he said, “is the day when Apple says ‘I don’t want this one.’”

Come that day, he said that France Telecom would go to court to protect its interests. “Competition is not only something that should be applied to telcos and to carriers,” he said. “For us it should be a principle for the whole Internet environment.”

SIMs & iPad

Other tidbits from the talk include the fact that he confirmed that his company is working with Apple to develop smaller SIM cards, and he said that Apple has been looking for a software SIM solution. He suggested this is no longer in the works, in part because Orange had convinced Apple it was a bad idea in terms of security.

He also praised the iPad, saying, “To me as a user and as a partner, there is the iPad and there is the rest.” He thinks the gulf between Apple’s iPad and the competition is so large that he doubts how big the media tablet market will be.

He said, “To be honest, I am still a little skeptical of the size of the world market in tablets. First, I do think the iPad is very well ahead of the competition in terms of tablets. I think there will be a world market for the iPad. What will be, really, the size of this market, is difficult to say, because in fact it is a new market. In fact I think that in the future people will have several devices, several screens. Nobody knows what is the mix or the range of devices that we will have.”

One interpretation of those remarks could be that he doesn’t believe anyone is going to be able to truly compete against the iPad, limiting the market to being mostly what Apple sells.

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Comments

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Somebody is confusing “sideloading” and “crapware”. Sideloading simply means that whoever has the phone in their posession can install software from any source on it. Most customers, absent an old man on a big screen telling them what to think, would actually want that, especially when it gives them access to alternative stores and useful applications (like camera apps that that use a volume button to trigger a snapshot).

sflocal

Most customers, absent an old man on a big screen telling them what to think, would actually want that, especially when it gives them access to alternative stores and useful applications (like camera apps that that use a volume button to trigger a snapshot).

Ahh… here we go again.  Bosco assuming what’s best for him must certainly be best for everyone else.

You want that ability to sideload apps?  Stick with Android.  Join that group and be happy.  Also, be happy for the telcos that take those same Android phones and load crapware (“sideload”) on it and locks it in so it can’t be removed.  Be happy with the numerous security issues Android has, and the similarity in using Android as it is compared to that gui mess that is windows.  I won’t even begin with that cesspool called the Android Market.

iPhone is the biggest selling PHONE (not OS) around.  It’s not the droid, the Incredible, or whatever other Android phone you want to use.  That being said “Most customers” have already spent loud and clear.  They want a phone that is secure, efficient, and productive.  They don’t want to deal with the worries of downloading some rogue app like is so easily possible with Android.  Don’t you think “Most customers” became fed-up long ago with devices that are developed and used by tech-heads like you that require a CS degree to operate?

Next thing you’ll defend is the ability to “root” your phone which of course we all know will be the moment you lose 99% of all consumers.

How’s that Flash running on your phone?  Get more than 45-minutes of battery life?

Joze

Ahh? here we go again.? Bosco assuming what?s best for him must certainly be best for everyone else.

You want that ability to sideload apps?? Stick with Android.? Join that group and be happy.? Also, be happy for the telcos that take those same Android phones and load crapware (?sideload?) on it and locks it in so it can?t be removed.? Be happy with the numerous security issues Android has, and the similarity in using Android as it is compared to that gui mess that is windows.? I won?t even begin with that cesspool called the Android Market.

iPhone is the biggest selling PHONE (not OS) around.? It?s not the droid, the Incredible, or whatever other Android phone you want to use.? That being said ?Most customers? have already spent loud and clear.? They want a phone that is secure, efficient, and productive.? They don?t want to deal with the worries of downloading some rogue app like is so easily possible with Android.? Don?t you think ?Most customers? became fed-up long ago with devices that are developed and used by tech-heads like you that require a CS degree to operate?

Next thing you?ll defend is the ability to ?root? your phone which of course we all know will be the moment you lose 99% of all consumers.

How?s that Flash running on your phone?? Get more than 45-minutes of battery life?

So many things wrong with this post.

1. You’ve never heard of a nexus phone have you? Stock, and nothing else.

2. You HAVE to enable side app loading because it’s off by default(how many average joes do you know that can do that?). There is an almost non existent chance you will get by rouge malware on the official market and or by doing nothing.

3. Your 3rd to last post proves my second point. Only complete idiots can get malware on an android phone by not knowing what they are doing.

4. Rooting an android phone will never go away. Any company that locks it’s bootloader simply loses customers to any company who hasn’t. If they all lock bootloaders? Nexus phone; a standard requirement is an unlocked bootloader and ease of root. It’s a developer phone, and thus will never lose Root status. So yes, OEM’s will lose 99% of customers, Not google.

5. If you are only getting 45 minutes out of a phone running on flash, you’ve either been sold a defective phone or you have a gazillion background process running.

Lancashire-Witch

IT has always been plagued by crap - hardware, software, companies, ideas, even printer drivers. We all have war stories to tell.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a free download, paid, pre-installed or given away in cereal packets; sorting out the good stuff has little to do with the means of delivery or cost.

I doubt any software, Bosco, could turn the camera on my iPhone 3G into something useful because the camera is crap to begin with.
As always, I could be wrong.

Fastflyer

What a bunch of socialist cr*p! If someone doesn’t like the Apple business model, don’t buy their products, period. Apple does not need to change their business model until it stops making money for them. It reminds me of when the vegetarians attacked Burger King because they didn’t sell soy burgers. BK’s response was we are in the business of selling meat. If you want soy burgers start your own restaurants. Apple doesn’t control the market. Their device market share is fairly small but their profits share is huge. Now tell me again why some outsider should be telling Apple how to run their business. What a loser.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

I doubt any software, Bosco, could turn the camera on my iPhone 3G into something useful because the camera is crap to begin with.
As always, I could be wrong.

By using a hardware button, you can steady the camera and eliminate a great deal of shake. Not allowed in the (Cr)App Store. Only usable on iPhone if you jailbreak.

Brian Hall of Missing Sync fame puts it best. You can have one of these in your app platform, but not both: (1) Curation, (2) Exclusive channel.

Lancashire-Witch

Thanks for that Bosco, But. Camera shake is a user-supplied function. Some people couldn’t hold a camera steady if their feet were set in concrete. Camera shake isn’t my problem.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Sorry it couldn’t help your problem. Hardware camera buttons would help a lot of iPhone users. When I bought (2) 3GSs, I certainly did not imagine that Apple’s App Store control would get so ridiculous as to actually ban objectively useful apps on such silly aesthetic grounds. I could afford to leave one in the drawer, and my Mom is fairly delighted to have a shiny toy, so no loss there.

The real point about side-loading isn’t to support French socialism. It’s that your iPhone ultimately belongs to you, not Apple. I’ll put it this way. If side-loading were enabled on the iPhone, I doubt I ever would have left the fold.

Nemo

I don’t think you need side-loading, unless you can’t get net neutrality, or what I call all civil and decent apps, in the App Store.  All that most users care about is having access to apps.  If they have that, then side-loading isn’t necessary.  But the problem is that users of Apple’s iOS devices don’t have access to all decent and civil apps, but only those apps that past muster in Cupertino. 

That won’t do, at least no Europe.  While U.S. Courts and the Congress will be slower to impose any rule that open a closed app store, such as the App Store, to all civil and decent apps, other jurisdictions and particularly in Europe won’t let the executive suite at Apple be the rule of law on what type of apps are permitted on the App Store.  Apple had better tread very carefully in Europe, for if it offends the sensibilities of regulators in any European countries, it may find itself under government’s orders and regulations regarding how apps are to be admitted to the App Store in those countries. 

And even in the U.S., Apple’s restrictions on speech will only be tolerated so far, and the toleration will be inversely proportional to the market share for iOS devices.

Lee Dronick

Camera shake is a user-supplied function. Some people couldn?t hold a camera steady if their feet were set in concrete. Camera shake isn?t my problem.

There are timer shutter release apps, I have one. They give you a few seconds after releasing the shutter button before it activates the camera. Most are designed to taking self-portraits, but can be used to help reduce shake in the manner of the timer in a traditional camera.

Remember that the shutter releases on the iPhone when you lift your finger from the button.

aardman

As long as the iPhone doesn’t have a chokehold on the smartphone market, the feds stepping in to regulate Apple’s app approval process on antitrust grounds is out of the question.

You’re not happy with your iPhone app choices?  You can always go to Android and the other alternatives.  Apple offers a specific set of features and tradeoffs to customers:  Stability and security on your smartphone in exchange for absolutely no side loading.  It’s obvious that tens of millions of people are fine with this deal.  If you aren’t, bring your money elsewhere.  Seems like a situation where everyone has something that satisfies their needs.  What’s all the whining by about?

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Stability and security on your smartphone in exchange for absolutely no side loading.?

If you believe that is the trade you’re making, you crack me up. As to this “you’re not happy, go to Android” crap. Most people who buy iPhones buy them on 2-year contracts. Many iPhone users currently on contract had no idea that Steve Jobs would go Taliban on us and ban swimsuit apps, apps made with third party development tools (until the EU smacked him down), apps that repurpose the hardware buttons, etc.

This side-loading thing is a much bigger battle. It’s really about customers owning the devices that they pay for, and being able to do things with them that they wish to do. French telecom exec is right. It’s time for Apple to get back with the industry norms and recognize that.

Fastflyer

Bosco, you crack me up. Nobody holds a gun on anybody to force them to buy Apple products. Apple is not in business to conform to industry norms. They are in business to MAKE MONEY. They seem fairly successful. As Android devolves into a slow motion train wreck of fragmenting code, why would anybody want to abandon a successful money printing business model to jump on that train?

RonMacGuy

Hi everyone. I’m not here to argue one side or the other. Just posting something so I can get follow-up comments emailed to me.

mhikl

Hey Fastflyer, I like your plain talk. I would have gone into some long tirade, probably with some piece of poetry to boot and ended with some quote from the Simpsons or TPBoys. I’d say a few hundred words or more. You did just fine with about 80.

Some people just DO NOT LIKE CHOICE and want all hamburgers to taste the same. Me, I like mine with apple sauce and peanut butter. Strange how choice aggravates some. Life’s too short and complicated to add that kind of thinking to the gravy.

What’s you up to, Ron. I’m confused. email me.

furbies

I don’t get those who bitterly complain about not being able to do what ever they want, when they want, to their iOS device(s).

If they miss that functionality, why did they choose an iOS device in the first place ?

Before there was the iPod touch, I had a HP WinMobile5 PDA (and I had to pay for 3rd party software that let me sync it on a mac) and I had no end of trouble trying to find useful apps. When looking at an app on line, it was almost never clear if it would run on my particular device, and even if it would, the install instructions were almost always written in ancient babylonian, and required that I install some other OS add on first!

Now I have an iPod touch 3rd Gen, and an iPad 1st Gen, and I couldn’t be happier.
(Well if someone gave me a free iPhone 4, I wouldn’t say no!)

Maybe Apple could loosen the restrictions on what Apps can do.
I would like more apps that can scan for WiFi networks and report on IP subnet etc, but I can live with WiFiTrak (which has disappeared from the iTunes store)

Nemo

A couple of points:  One, I think that Apple already has sufficient market share with its iOS mobile devices to suppress speech that does not conform to the views of Apple’s executive suite and certainly has that affect among the customers of its iOS devices, so I think, therefore, that Apple should be forced to accept on its App Store all civil and decent discourse.

And second, as for the argument that, if you don’t like Apple’s censorship and its bigotry, drop dead and go buy Android or something else, that argument is nothing more than saying if you don’t like Apple’s bigotry then shut up, because Apple’s bigotry is okay and whatever effect it has on restricting civil and decent discourse, which I believe is considerable, is okay, presumably because either you really don’t value free speech and are okay with how Apple has exercised its bigotry.  In short, you are fine with bigotry, as long as it is not your views being excluded, that is, you are bigots.  Okay, that is well enough, but don’t pretend you have any allegiance to the American value of free and open discourse, because you demonstrably don’t.  You are just bigots, who happen to like Apple’s bigotry, and like Apple, your response to at least certain dissenting views is:  I am in charge so shut up.

Fortunately, the Librarian of Congress (LOC) has provided another response than simply buying something else, and that is the authority to jailbreak my iOS device and tell Apple to take its bigotry, its ecosystem, and perhaps its product warrant and go and shut up.

trrll

Some of this strikes me as kind of ridiculous. “It’s time for Apple to get back to industry norms”?  Why reduce the diversity in the marketplace by imposing “norms”? Many of Apple’s customers regard Apple’s curation of the App Store as a selling point. Some will not. For them, there are lots of alternatives. Android phones may not be iPhones, but many of them are perfectly good phones. Is having to settle for an Android phone rather than an iPhone really such a horrible fate.

And of course it is true that Apple’s business partners need to maintain a good relationship with Apple. It is bad business to run down your business partner—whether it is Apple or anybody else—in public, because they are likely to go looking for another partner who will be more careful about what they say in public. Is this news to anybody? Free speech doesn’t mean freedom from repercussions if you offend somebody. Frankly, calling this sort of corporate public relations issue “bigotry” is to trivialize the suffering of people who face real bigotry based upon race, ethnicity, or sexual preference.

mhikl

I never thought of it this way, Nemo. The third option which gives legal authority and the right for one to jailbreak his or her personal iOS device relieves Apple from criminal action and any accusation that Apple suppresses freedom of speech. Those in favour of total, unbridled freedom of expression should be jubilant.

A parent wanting assurance that his child will not have adverse applications on her iOS product would feel comfortable with an iPhone as it is purchase from Apple.

Another person who wants to use an iOS device but does not want the restrictions borne by the App Store can jailbreak an Apple device and fill it with whatever the heart desires.

A third person might wish to by-pass the whole controversy or and efforts required to jailbreak his iOS device can choose a non-Apple device.

The desires of all are equally met. Wherever the freedom of speech and action is held as a sacred right it is often difficult to meet the needs of everyone. It is assuring to see that the rights and desires of all points of view can be achieved through logical and legal means.

Nemo

Dear trill:  Apple’s bigotry is just as real as any other, and the consequences of it, Apple’s bigotry, may be just as or even more profound, if for no other reason than that the contours of Apple’s bigotry are unknown.  The instances of Apple’s bigotry are as surprising as oracles from Delphi, as the latest announcement from Apple dictates to its adults customers both what civil and decent apps they may present on the App Store and what apps they may not patronize on the App Store.

Dear mhiki:  As the LOC said in announcing his jailbreaking rule, it does not cover third-party developers of jailbreaking tools.  Without, that it isn’t possible to develop a competing app ecosystem that has sufficient easy of use and scale to compete with the App Store so as to provide Apple’s iOS customers with a real choices, freeing them from Apple’s bigotry.  However, there may be a legal solution to that problem, which for the moment I will keep to myself. 

Also, the LOC’s opinion that personal jailbreaking is Fair Use has not been tried in court.  I suspect that Apple has avoided a court fight, because it fears that it might lose, and because without third parties being able to make jailbreaking tools to develop a competing ecosystem, Apple doesn’t and probably won’t face significant competition from jailbreaking, so there is no reason for Apple to risk losing in court and, thus, making the LOC’s opinion unambiguous law. However, some of those doing jailbreaking appears to have built nice small businesses, but those business are many orders of magnitude smaller than the App Store, and, thus, don’t offer any real choice or competition to the App Store.

But it is nice to see that you are in favor of free speech, so that, if I or others are able to devise a licit means for third-party developers of jailbreaking tools to offer real choice and competition to the App Store, your support can be counted upon.

mhikl

Nemo,

free to speak one’s soul is as important to me as the right to breathe. I often find myself in free hearted discussions with others that never ceases to fill me with wonder and awe; what I gain about the nature of our species is often moving. Without the freedom of speech we are incapable of seeing into the mind of others, some might say the mind of god, however you perceive him.

Speech and the freedom of expression and the freedom from worry that people might be castigated or incarcerated for their expressions can be seen as a major necessity for human progress. And the responsibility to question my own thoughts and listen to the thoughts of others that might question or challenge my own perceptions has been a central part of my consciousness since a moment of sterling perspicuity in Middle School. Growing up in a large family rift with discussion and debate under the tutelage of two QCs didn?t hurt my chances of appreciating the inviolate right of freedom to speak,  either.

One lesson my favourite aunt made to me as a child that has had a great influence on my ways of reasoning was her answer to my request for a cookie from a large glass jar full of them. She told me to take whatever I wanted and then offered the jar to me. As she unscrewed the lid she asked me if I would enjoy the cookie more if I was the only one offered a cookie. I thought about it and replied that it would be more fun if we both had a cookie. I don?t know exactly if she knew how important that silly lesson was to a five year old, but it made me think more of another?s rights and desires and has become one of the most important lessen I try to impart to my students. Freedom of speech reminds me of that incident.

Whether a person wishes to use iOS as Apple originally intended or should he jailbreak it is a matter of legal choice. I am satisfied that jail breaking is not a crime. I am also satisfied that Apple has the choice and right to devise a device that it supports with an ecosystem based upon principles it deems important for whatever it reasons. And though both choices may ensue limiting factors, either way advances free expression. Life being so complicated and at times trying it seems that complexity is what makes our shared experiences wondrous and fulfilling and choice makes the some complexities more bearable. In that, I find solace when ever I feel I can?t get my own way. Amazingly, closed doors often reveal new and better pathways and opportunities.

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