Mobile phone operator Orange is to insert small widgets providing content and games onto most of its phones, in a bid to match the success of the popular apps available on expensive smartphones.

Applications, or apps, such as those found on Apple's iPhone have proved hugely popular in recent years and Orange, owned by France Telecom, hopes to bring that multimedia experience to their more basic handsets. Mobile operators are increasingly looking to grow data revenues from searching the Internet and sharing pictures after experiencing falling sales in mature markets due to mobile saturation and voice price competition. Popular widgets which encourage consumers to use their phone more to access news updates, sports results or traffic alerts could form part of that strategy.

Orange, which has previously said around 75 percent of its customer base does not access multimedia services, said it would partner with Netvibes to bring the widget platform to millions of mobile users across Europe, Middle East and Africa. “Our strategy is to make mobile widgets a reality for everyone — not just the mobile multimedia fans with sophisticated smartphones,” said Paul-Francois Fournier, executive vice-president of audience and advertising at Orange. “Our approach is to offer diverse local content, in all languages, with an intuitive and simple experience that will appeal to all.” Users will be able to access via their phones the catalogue of nearly 200,000 widgets from content providers around the world. Orange will also provide a software developer kit to enable developers to create new widgets for the platform.