Free, a radical story turning disruptive (3/3)

Previous: Free, Tackling Disruption

I_m_free www.gizmodo.frMobile is the first screen

The digital world is dizzying: cloud, big data, intelligent things, contactless NFC, mobile financial services, smart home, smart city, smart car, identity and privacy concerns, multiscreen experience, context aware services, wearable devices, next-generation networks (LTE, Fiber, Wi-fi, small cells),… It’s not easy to catch the weak signals unfolding emerging trends.

Let’s borrow Free glasses for a moment. What are the keywords we’re looking for? Telco, broadband, Internet, TV, mobile. With these tags, we can google the market differently, and be more specific: two signals stand out frome the multitude.

Firstly is the spot I draw in a previous article: ‘Mobile is becoming the first screen of our daily life’. It involves mobile devices and tablets, and mix general mobile use and surging video consumption. New quotes and announcements are gushing everyday:

  • ‘Mobile is our remote control for life: wallet, keys, health consultants, and soon fingerprints’;
  • ‘Mobile is the ‘new smoking’: people pick it up and engage, they do not go an hour without checking’;


  • ‘About 27% of U.S. adults watch video on devices other than a TV’;
  • ‘Most mobile video experience actually happens at home’ (Videonuze);
  • ‘Mash up between mobile and TV will spawn new way of consuming entertainment, news, user engagement and feedback’ (Trend Lives).
  • ‘The future of video is on mobile devices’ says recent keynote from Robert Tercek;
  • ‘Imagine connecting tablet to TV in a hotel room and having same viewing experience you have at home’ (Antone Gonsalves)
  • ‘Everything should be made available as a live stream, on-demand and as sync-and-go, where you can download content securely and take it with you’ (Motorola);
  • ‘TV definition now is: on every screen, on-demand, no charges and no extras’ (TimeWarner);
  • New type of portable TV are emerging combining mobile devices, antenna accessories, and broadband / broadcast networks: Aereo, Dyle;
  • ‘Magine re-defines TV by combining cloud-based live TV, catch-up and on-demand programming in the same place’;
  • ‘Boxee TV is dead, long live Boxee Cloud DVR’ via gigaom.

family-tv jpg

Secondly, user feedbacks and Telco communication present LTE as a groundbreaking technology, a major step for the Internet and Video use, a gap similar to the jump from PSTN to ADSL / Brodband technology:

  • ‘LTE is a very good, easily deployable network technology, offering high speeds and low latencies over long distances’ (Extreme Tech);
  • ‘AT&T was rated with an average LTE-only download speed of 18.6 megabits per second and an average upload speed of 9Mbps. Its maximum download speed averaged 57.7Mbps’ (CNET): these are absolutely amazing figures close to fixed broadband speeds;
  • ‘LTE allows a video experience closer to TV’ (US Telco Sprint);
  • ‘Mobile video is now the killer app, but only because of 4G’ (Douglas Alston, Sprint);
  • ‘Chip and software package for LTE Broadcast will be commercially available in early 2014’ (MIT Technology Review);

LTE logo

Nothing seems more compelling than video over LTE.

Roads to ‘Free’ dom

Mobile is not a mere toe in the ocean of possibility for Free: actually it will probaly spend the bulk of its time, trying to ratchet up a new level in the mobile market.

Mobile video is a soaring territory willing to be shaked? Freeing up is in Free DNA.

Let’s continue the role play game: what could be the angle of attack? Adopting Free ‘modus operandi’, combining leapfrogging technology, with an emblematic product and a breakthrough in pricing, we can make guesses about the ‘liberation’ scenarios Free might play:

  • Unleashing the chain of the TV set: inventing a ‘mobile Freebox’ concept, letting you bring your own TV with you. It would feature best mobile video experience across networks and screens, through Cloud TV,  and Free assets of seamless handover with Wi-Fi (EAP-SIM) and swipe over screens (Free Air Media Vidéo);


  • Breaking the rigidity of current subscriptions: promoting packaging over multiple screen, with unlimited data plan. Developing flexible pricing adapted to video consumption (family plan, on-demand content gifts, pay as you go): ‘making content mobile rather than being tied to a specific device’. Leveraging intriguing partnership to subsidize mobile data usage (ESPN);


  • Opening wider the door for creative mobile apps: building API faciliating connected experiences across Freebox, Smart Phone, Tablets and Intelligent Things, and Cloud TV platform (AssistanTV,, Freebox Recorder). Letting the fresh air of social and community breathe, and nurture innovation: ‘Open Source Solutions + Open APIs = Innovation age’.

Challenges along the road

Creating a product so compelling it becomes ‘as commonplace as your remote control’ is a huge challenge. We’re not looking here for a passive device, but for a living product, spreading an empowering feeling for the user, building on existing relationship between user and his mobile to define a new landmark for TV, a passion video service.

One of the challenges for ‘The man of the Freebox’ will be to adopt another point of view, to put on ‘Mobile glasses’, and disrupt himself. ‘Mobile first: let’s stop considering mobile as an extension of the computer’ tells us Francis Pisani.

A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step: it all starts with creating more perceived value for the customer.

To catch the sky over the fence, one must go beyond its own interest and embrace shared value, mixing impact and profit. ‘Most amazing business models are those where profit and impact live in harmony’ rates Alex Osterwalder via Deborah Mills-Scofield.

Sky over fence


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future of TV - Leading by InnovatingNicolas is a senior VP at Orange Innovation Group. Serial innovator, he set-up creative BU with an international challenge, and a focus on new TV experiences. Forward thinker, he completed a thesis on “Rapid Innovation”, implemented successfully at Orange, and further developed at He tweets @nicobry

Nicolas Bry

Serial innovator, Nicolas has set up creative units for new business at Orange, Club-Internet, and SFR. Nicolas created crowd platform, Orange Studio for Intrapreneurs, and edits Open Innovation blog International speaker, entrepreneurs & startups coach, innovation teacher at Telecom ParisTech, HEC & CentraleSupélec, and freelance consultant (ECC). Follow him at @nicobry.




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