Orange launches Monkey

UK operator Orange has announced a new youth-oriented prepaid tariff, labelled Monkey, which offers customers unlimited free music in exchange for regular top ups.

The service is being launched in partnership with Channel 4’s 4Music brand, and Universal Music, with 4Music providing editorial and promotional support and Universal providing the platform and catalogue.

Jonathan Arber, IDC’s senior research analyst in consumer mobile, commented on the new product: “Free music is undoubtedly a big attention grabber, especially in light of the success of services such as Spotify, and we expect operators to attempt to capitalise on this.

“However, this is an extremely limited service, given that customers will only be able to listen to music from one label, which plays against the diverse tastes of the youth demographic,” he continued. “The mobile portion of the service requires a voice call to listen to music, this means that the consumer may be unable to receive calls while using the service. Dialling the access number allows the user to listen to a number of preset playlists, making this little more than an interactive radio station.”

He added: “The PC portion of the service allows unlimited streaming, but again, it will inevitably be compared to services such as Spotify, which offer a far broader catalogue, and are available for free. However, Orange is attempting to differentiate with editorial content.”

Mark Little, principal analyst at Ovum, said of Monkey: “Orange’s Monkey targets cash-strapped teens. Following the path forged successfully online by Spotify and We7, Orange is looking to pop free music into the pockets of the most cash-strapped youth market with the objective of growing pay as you go revenues.

“Ovum’s view is that Monkey is well positioned on basic low cost phones at a time when Spotify is still waiting to sign with Apple’s and Google’s high end smart phones that target a slightly older, wealthier consumer. Monkey is also nicely packaged online by Channel 4’s 4Music team who are providing the editorial, integrated programming and a key marketing outlet targeting teens and twenty-something’s,” said Little.

Little continued: “The immediate problems for Orange following this announcement will be to persuade the other 3 majors to join Universal on Monkey, as well as persuading online Spotify users to sign up or stay with Orange instead of saving up for a Spotify-compatible phone.”

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