Orange Hello, is it me you're looking for ?

Orange Hello is an internet computer for dummies, the word "dummies" covering the minority of techno- / PCphobes who never considered purchasing nor using a computer, and people ready to pay EUR 1 + EUR 39.9 per month for a simple play (internet access) instead of the standard EUR 29.9 per month for a full triple play... Ideally, seniors with a comfortable pension but lacking the courage to join their kids and grandkids in the internet age. Grandkids who mock at their absence of smart screens at home. Grandkids who may even not enjoy staying overnight simply because here, they can't browse the web on a bigger screen than their own smartphone.

Hello is expensive, granted, but delivers, installs, and maintains at your place a PC with an almost iMacish look : a thick 15 inch- screen connected to a keyboard and including a 120 Go hardrive, a webcam, and a broadband modem. Orange makes sure Kids can get their daily fix : features include messenging, video, music, games, web TV... (plus text to speech for their myopic dinosaur ancestors).

A little sexier than Jean-Louis Constanza's first device meant as an entry point to French households : a no-frills fixed phone that would automatically compose the 4 prefix for Tele2 France customers.

Now CEO of Orange Vallee, Constanza (who after the Swede category killer moved on to Ten MVNO) is still working on pedagogy and simplicity for new usages in daily communications, only with smarter technologies, and different budget constraints for the operator... and obviously the customer.

Hello can be considered as the big brother of another Orange Vallee device* : Tabbee, an always on, family friendly, stand alone web terminal featuring a 7 inch touch screen.

But Hello doesn't have a touch screen. So don't even dream about smearing your Hello screen while imitating John King with your greasy fingers. All you may ruin is the supposedly more intuitive and user friendly keyboard. Because believe it or not, even French dummies know how to use a keyboard.

Orange can thank mother company France Telecom for this miracle : most post Y2K seniors are former Minitel users.

* While I'm at it : "Orange Vallee"'s 2009 Summer Collection include mobile platforms (WorMee music platform, Application Shop, TV d'Orange for iPhone, Orange 24/24 news engine), entertainment accessories (Hi-Fi Adapter, Media Remote Control), business / messenging solutions (Instant Messenger for all, Visual Voicemail, Teleconference, Medical Office)... see
Orange Innovation TV for details.


Gmarket vs Skype and Stumbleupon - e-business as usual for eBay

Losing ground at home vs Amazon, eBay decides to build a new fortress in Korea, combining over two thirds of Gmarket with its Internet Auction Company there. Almost gone the Skype hype, fumbled Stumbleupon... back to core business.

Inter Park, distant third behind Gmarket and IAC (8% vs 47% and 34%) owned 34% of Gmarket, which will operate separately from IAC. Besides, Korean authorities may ask some further concessions, but they already okayed the deal.

Beyond national marketing, technological, and logistical synergies, eBay intends to build an international platform from this new local giant in the long term. Nice way of putting things for a rather defensive move : Korea will neither open the gates to Japan, nor take over eBay's operations in China and Taiwan. Maybe strengthen some positions around LA and Orange counties.

The deal will be completed by the end of H1 2009, Skype will be IPOed H1 2010, eBay will keep non-technological bubbly start ups at bay until the recession itself recedes.

* "
eBay to Expand Asian Operations Through Combination with Gmarket, Korea's Largest Online Marketplace" (eBay - 20090416)


Cisco Takes Over Songdo

Last February*, Cisco and Incheon government signed a MOU for the new Songdo city within IFEZ (Incheon Free Economic Zone). And yesterday, John Chambers met with Korean President Lee Myung-bak, disclosing some details on Cisco's $ 2 bn investment : Songdo will host a major R&D center, but furthermore become a testbed for Cisco's convergent solutions.

From the beginning, the self-proclaimed "U City" / "Ubiquitous City" was to promote new technologies up to a bigbrotherian point, claiming the ultimate convergence, merging all private and professional databases, monitoring everything via CCTVs, RFId, and other tracking systems**... so Cisco seemed the perfect pervasive partner.

Lee Myung-bak appears to open the gates even wider towards the rest of the country, and one cannot help but think about how dramatically times have changed : not so long ago, Korea was doing its best to claim its technological independence from other US Inc. giants (Intel, Microsoft).

But even if Korea Inc. is also investing massively in R&D by itself (ie SK Telecom just announced a 18% hike for 2009 to KRW 1.3 tn / USD 1 bn), the country needs foreign investments more than ever, and Songdo International Business District (a POSCO-Gale International JV) undoubtedly needed some good news following recent defections most damaging to its international ambitions (a few foreign investors cancelling their plans, the international school folding...). Up to now, appartment sales have been a success because individuals speculated on a high ROI. But real estate is a tricky bet these days, and most foreigners prefer to wait and see : OK, this land claimed on the Yellow Sea will soon be directly connected to Incheon Airport***, and the plans look impressive, but you just don't decree the presence of international companies and people.

In the long run, this partnership could prove a turning point for Songdo.

Cisco is making a reasonable bet. Its R&D center will at least draw many companies from the local ecosystem, and with or without foreign newcomers, putting a lock on such an entry point is priceless.

* "
Cisco and Incheon Metropolitan City to Open New Chapter in Globalisation" (20090219)
** Latest "innovation" in home networking ? Samsung connects your automatic vacuum cleaner to your mobile phone : you just invited a friend home for tonight or need to check if grandma's flat is OK ? Open your vacuum's eyes and set it in motion if needed.

*** The bridge is almost completed. Besides, Gyeonggi Province, which surrounds Seoul and connects the Capital to Incheon, chose also yesterday to unveil its projected lines for the GTX (Great Train Express), a new underground commuting system : Ilsan-Suseo (46.3 km), Uijongbu-Geumjeong (49.3),... and Songdo-Seoul (Cheongnyangni - 49.9 km).


Google from Buzzing to Twitting - Keep It Smart and Simple

Everybody twits these days (except yours truly*). No wonder Big G tries to put a tag on the phenomenon. A me-too product wouldn't make sense but at last, Google can try to add sense to Twitter.

"ads by Google", that's already 13 characters. And the announcer hasn't started talking yet.

Twitter's success lies in shortness and simplicity, symbolized by a Haiku format. Google's success lies in simplicity, symbolized by a no-frills homepage. This partnership cannot succeed unless AdSense comes up with something really simple and smart.

* I got
twitted by Barack, Gordon & co after the G20, though.

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