Orange is a global telecommunications company that has over 155,000 employees and generated over €39 billion in revenue last year. They don’t really need outside funding to launch a prototype landline phone – but they are using Ulule, France’s first crowdfunding platform to launch NeoRetro – rotary style phone.
Orange’s designers have created a retro, 1930s style landline that incorporates today’s tech. The phone is more a statement than a tool. The NeoRetro prototype is being offered to the general public but only if it captures sufficient consumer interest, which will be gauged using Ulule, Europe’s first crowdfunding platform.
“Orange is developing an ambitious Open Innovation approach. From Open Innovation to crowdsourcing and crowdfunding our wish is to create and validate new products not just for but with the public. This campaign’s objective isn’t to meet a financial goal but rather to give us the opportunity to launch a product scale test by making sure that the NeoRetro, which we’ve designed and created with much passion sparks just as much enthusiasm among the people it was made for.”
The campaign has already achieved its low hurdle of 500 supporters (over 640 now) so the telephones will be delivered in the first half of 2016. Campaign contributors will receive theirs first – but then the NeoRetro will be sold through Orange’s distribution network at a target price of €139.
As part of the project during the course of the development and industrialisation phase, contributors will be given regular updates on the project’s progress and will be able to see the telephone at all stages of production.
NeoRetro is a universal telephone – it is said to work in all the countries in the European Union as well as in the United States and in Canada – and simply connects to the traditional fixed phone line or an internet box.
Marketing research is can be expensive. Using crowdfunding platforms to test new concepts and products can be a very efficient method of gauging market viability. Orange is not the first global conglomerate to use crowdfunding as a consumer interest tool but it will be interesting to see how the product performs once it hits retail distribution.
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