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Orange to use Walkman phone, promote diva Aguilera

Written by: Staff
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LONDON, Mar 4 (Reuters) Mobile phone operator Orangesaid on Friday it would roll out Sony Ericsson's new Walkman phones across Europe in a venture that includes a sponsorship deal with pop diva Christina Aguilera.

Orange, owned by France Telecom, is betting heavily on services such as music and video downloads as the industry seeks other sources of income, with voice call revenues under pressure from rising competition and falling prices.

The agreement covers Orange's entire European reach, including Britain, France, Spain, the Netherlands and other countries. Sony Ericsson is a joint venture between Japanese electronics conglomerate Sony Corp. and Sweden's Ericsson.

The sponsorship deal with Aguilera, an artist with record company Sony BMG -- another Sony joint venture, with German media conglomerate Bertelsmann AG -- includes a nine-month marketing campaign for the Grammy Award winner's upcoming single, album and European tour.

Orange customers will be given access to exclusive re-mixes, ringtones and videos. The company had 71 million customers in 17 countries at the end of 2005, with France and the UK its biggest markets.

''Music is a key strategic priority for Orange in 2006,'' said Frank Boulben, Orange's executive vice president for brand consumer marketing.

Orange also said the Sony Ericsson Walkman W810i and W300i phones would be customised to work with its Signature framework, which attempts to offer consumers a consistent way of using its service regardless of the handset maker.

REUTERS SD BS1922

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