[Interview] “The FreePhone is a way to differentiate yourself, but it is not the only one”

by bold-lichterman

Free is a past master in the art of making people talk about him, by blowing a simple rumor. Latest eight days ago, that of marketing a phone under its brand in 2015. It should be noted that the operators SFR, Orange or Bouygues Telecom are already relying on mobile models that they buy under a white label. The opportunity to take stock of the strategy and positioning of the operator Free with Etienne Costes, partner and specialist in the media and telecommunications sector at Ernst & Young.

Frenchweb : Is the rumor of a Free brand phone credible?

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Etienne Costes, EY partner.

Etienne Costes: Nobody knows what Free will do on the subject of a new telephone and the operator has accustomed us to surprising its customers and competitors. It obviously makes sense to master certain characteristics of the terminal: you can develop your own integration model, the applications to download, and the customer experience. But today, few telephone operators have succeeded in launching their own terminals. Even Google struggled to impose its Nexus model.

Is Free unable to innovate on the hardware ?

Free was very innovative from a pricing point of view. But also from a service point of view with its Box. The operator has shown that he has a perfect command of the subject. On the mobile, Free has brought a real price break (with the launch of his packages in 2011 ndlr), mastery of the mobile terminal would allow it to innovate in services and customer experience.

If the FreePhone hypothesis fails, what other innovation can we consider?

Since the 2000s there has been a real subject on broadband, or how to improve the user experience between the mobile network and that of the wifi box. I believe that Free can innovate on a better integration of the mobile and the box. This is called “convergence” on all the services offered. There is still a lot to do on how, from my mobile, I interact with my box. So far, it is mainly the publishers of applications and sites such as Deezer or Spotify who have succeeded in building these multi-device experiences. Free can certainly innovate on this. Especially since one of the operator’s challenges is to optimize its network costs: the more voice and data it manages to use on the Boxes, the better it is. It’s the ” handover “; everything that happens from the cellular network to the wifi at the customer’s home.

Can we expect new pricing innovations from Free in 2015?

If it’s on a FreePhone, don’t expect a low-end phone, when you see the success of the iPhone 6, the most expensive mobile on the market. The Free box is also not a box low cost. The strength of Free is to make money on the Internet. The goal will not be to make massive money on the terminal. Moreover, it all depends on the economic model with which he sells it; subsidized or not. But above all, Free will have a need to differentiate itself. The telephone is one of the levers, but it is not the only one.

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