Ananova’s Orange Makeover

This entry was posted on
Wednesday, May 22nd, 2002
12:22 pm and is filed
under Teh Interwebs.

Orange Ananova

After a slow and gradual shift into the background, the search function at Ananova has now disappeared altogether. The way in which they did this led me to suspect that the function would be reintroduced at a later date under some form of subscription service.

I was wrong. The real reason for it is far more entertaining.

If you call the customer service department, you’ll get the message that they’re ‘streamlining the site in keeping with their partnership with Orange’. Remember that statement, because there’s a grain of truth in it.

You may also be aware that a message was delivered to subscribers of their email news alert service, who were informed last Friday that the service would stop, erm, this Monday. An official release followed that, instead of addressing what was missing, directed your eyes to a brave new world of news updates.

“Ananova is teaming up with Orange to create a ground-breaking new mobile news service,” it trumpets, going on to say that, “You will be able to follow all the news, sport, business and entertainment subjects you are used to seeing on Ananova, on your Orange phone.”

On your Orange phone. Remember that, because it’s important too.

Ananova isn’t ‘teaming up’ with Orange. Orange bought Ananova nearly two years ago. At the time, Orange’s CEO said that “Ananova is a key element of our plans to develop our overall portal platform…”

Damn right it is.

A call to the main office for Ananova for some more information was enlightening and amusing from the start (the receptionist answers the phone with ‘Hello, Orange!’).

Customer Services were very nice to me, as was the lovely lass in their PR department, who informed me that the Ananova site was being slimmed ‘so as to better address mobile phone users’.

“And by that, you mean Orange mobile phone users?”, I ventured.

“Um, yes..” she admitted.

It’s hardly Watergate, but for all the noise the Ananova site will make about ‘streamlining’, the hard fact is the guts of the operation is being moved over to provide content and services for Orange subscribers. No news alerts, unless you subscribe to Orange. No search function, unless you subscribe to Orange. I picture a day in the not too distant future when the only thing left at the Ananova site will be a few animated gifs of tumbleweeds blowing across the page.

Most web users will be well aware of the reaction Ananova would get if they announced an introduction of charges for ‘value-added’ services such as a search function. Perhaps that’s why they’ve taken these measures to bypass the issue by putting the service in the hands of customers (who are already parting with their cash) under the banner of a new service.

But where does that leave those of us who previously relied on the useful tools that Ananova provided? Can we opt to pay a subscription to access the service? No, we can’t. If we want to keep using the useful version of Ananova, we have little or no choice but to sign up with Orange.

Erm, or maybe stick two fingers in their general direction and make do with Daypop.

So long, Ananova. It was nice knowing you, but the Orange makeover just makes you look like another ginger tosser.


UPDATE – Ananova, for reasons unknown, had a sudden change of heart – and policy – about a week or so later. While email alerts are now only available to Orange subscribers, the search function is now back in place.

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