The deal means Orange will give millions of customers in France, the United Kingdom, Spain, and Poland quick access to content from the Wikimedia Foundation, which includes the crowd-sourced Wikipedia and Wikibooks. This will include the creation of mobile and Web-based widgets to get access to Wikipedia content, as well as including relevant Wikipedia links on sections of Orange's Web and mobile portals.
The partnership also means the organizations will create new services to share content across Orange's mobile, Internet, and television offerings. Phase two of the deal will expand the partnership across all of Orange's European footprint.
"At Orange we are committed to giving people maximum access to the widest range of digital technologies and to simplifying the way people use these technologies to access information," said Paul-Francois Fournier, executive VP at Orange, in a statement. "By bringing our customers a new way to access content from Wikipedia, one of the world's most recognized and popular Internet brands, we are delivering on this commitment."
For the Wikimedia Foundation, the move could help it extend its reach across Europe, where Wikipedia is not as popular as it is in other areas of the globe. With more than 123 million customers, Orange has the weight to help it build the brand.
With the mobile Internet set to grow rapidly over the next few years, the deal enables Wikimedia to stake its claim before rivals can. While mobile browsers are making it easier for customers to seek out any Web site on the go, on-deck content still gets far more traffic at this stage.
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