French telecom company launches e-newspaper trial

By Amy Lee


Industry chatter for years has suggested that the “newspaper” of tomorrow will be produced and distributed on paper-free portable electronic devices. To a certain extent, this is true today, as users can navigate the Internet, search newspapers’ sites and read stories displayed on most current cell phones. But this process (in my case, at least) is often slow and clumsy, and it’s one more feature of a phone – not a device dedicated solely to e-news reading.


So I was intrigued to learn that Orange, the telecommunications brand of France Telecom, on April 17 launched a test run of Read & Go, a portable “electronic newspaper kiosk” that allows users to access five French newspapers. It’s kinda like Amazon’s Kindle e-reader in that users access the newspapers via touch screen and it’s Wi-Fi and 3G-enabled. It’s also kind of large compared to a cell phone. The five newspapers involved in the trial are Le Monde, Le Parisien, Les Echos, L’Equipe and Télérama; Orange claims information from each newspaper will be refreshed on the Read & Go every hour. The device also offers 1 GB of storage (enough for 200 newspapers, according to Orange) and 30 eBooks, including novels and city guides.


The company is currently seeking about 150 users to try the device for about two months, and also hopes to geolocate ads on the device. This tied right into the LoJo Connect team’s focus of supplying information to users based on their location. Personally, I think the Read & Go looks a tad large and that most people prefer a multi-use mobile device (like cell phones with Web access, etc.) to carrying around yet another portable tech device. But it’s cool that users can access several newspapers at once and that it’s free to navigate, for now anyway. This is perhaps the best example yet of the heavily foreshadowed portable e-newspaper of the future and could help carve the direction of e-news and location-based advertising, so it’s worth checking out.