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Orange hears his master's voice

Handsets find shelf space in HMV

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Orange has signed a deal with HMV to put franchise operations into the high-street retailer's stores, emphasising how much mobile telephony has encroached on the media industry.

The deal puts what Orange calls "show and sell" spaces into HMV shops, where Orange staff can demonstrate to punters why they don't need a dedicated MP3 player or portable video device when a high-end telephone will do both jobs almost as well. Glasgow, Plymouth and Teesside will be the first of a hundred such spaces to be created in time for Christmas.

It certainly would seem to be a better fit that 3's similar deal with Superdrug, which was hugely scaled back last year as the company put more money into its own stores.

The mobile industry spends a great deal of time trying to explain to users what a modern handset can do, which is why mobile phone shops still proliferate on our high-streets. But the majority still insist on making phone calls, sending text messages and taking the occasional photograph - though that is starting to change. Orange reckons that 24 per cent of its revenue is now non-voice (though that figure includes text messaging).

HMV will be pleased to expand its offering without spending more money - shelves of CDs are already being squeezed by DVDs, iPods, headphones, games consoles and even the Sony E-Reader. These days his master's voice is more likely to emerge from an MP3 player than a gramophone record, so why not a telephone too? ®

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