European telecom company Orange has struck a deal with the Wikimedia Foundation to expand mobile access to a broad range of information and content in the U.K., Spain, Poland and France. After a short pilot period, the plan is to roll out these services, and several new ones, to the rest of Orange’s European user base — covering up to 30 countries. No financial terms have been released.
Starting after the deal finalizes, Orange customers will see more links to Wikipedia content when they access the internet via their phones. The two companies are also working on mobile and web-based widgets that would allow users to access any Wikipedia information directly from their phones, blogs or homepages.
The Wikimedia Foundation says it hopes to extend its reach through the partnership and build its brand in European communities where Wikipedia has yet to become a major online destination. Mobile expansion seems to be an apt strategy as cell phone sales continue to explode on the continent. For many, cell phones are the primary portal for the internet, and Wikipedia wants to have a strong presence upfront.
A subsidiary of France Telecom, Orange boasts 123 million customers, providing internet, mobile and television service. Alternatively, the Wikimedia Foundation — Wikipedia and its other properties — says it draws over 300 million unique monthly visitors, making it the fourth most popular web site on the internet. With stats like these, it seems that both companies have something to offer the other.