Microsoft is preparing for the commercial launch later this year of the Sendo Z100, the first handset to use its Smartphones 2002 platform. Faced with the commitment of the world’s leading handset manufacturers to the competing Symbian platform, Microsoft is working with smaller OEMs such as Sendo and HTC to create customised devices for individual network operators. Larger form-factor Pocket PC 2002 Phone Edition devices, such as O2’s XDA (maufactured by HTC) are already on the market. Annemarie Duffy is Marketing Manager for Wireless and Mobility at Microsoft.
How have consumer and business users reacted to the latest Pocket PC 2002 Phone Edition devices versus the original Pocket PC 2000 units with integrated wireless?
Microsoft Pocket PC 2002 Phone Edition software is an extension of the successful Pocket PC and Pocket PC 2002 platforms, which have achieved over 41 percent market share in Europe and global sales of over 2 million devices in less than two years. Pocket PC 2002 Phone Edition incorporates all the robustness and reliability of the market’s leading PDA with the addition of full telephony features. A number of leading mobile operators such as O2, T-Mobile and Vodafone and device manufacturers have demonstrated their support for Pocket PC 2002 Phone Edition software.
What advantages do Microsoft’s wireless device platforms provide for operators seeking to increase ARPU?
Microsoft believes that software is a key differentiator in making wireless data services valuable to customers. Microsoft’s mobile devices, the Windows Powered Pocket PC and Smartphone, provide mobile operators with a rich platform for delivering compelling wireless data applications and services to their customers and therefore assist the operators to increase data ARPU. A number of leading mobile operators around the world have announced partnerships with Microsoft to bring to market a range of Windows Powered smart devices, servers and services including O2, Deutsche Telekom, Telfonica and AT&T.
Microsoft is delivering on its commitment to provide operators with the best software for building customised mobile data solutions and extending our web services platform (.NET) to a variety of mobile devices. Microsoft-supported devices can deliver rich connectivity, personalisation and entertainment capabilities that have proved highly successful with consumers since the launch of Pocket PC two years ago.
In summary, we believe that rich smart devices are a critical component of a thriving wireless ecosystem. Smart devices act as a catalyst to drive services and user scenarios both on- and off-line, and represent a key revenue opportunity for operators. Therefore we see software as a key differentiator in making wireless data services valuable to customers.
What has prevented Microsoft Smartphones devices from reaching the market ahead of Symbian and Palm OS products?
It is crucial that there is a synergy between software, hardware and mobile networks. The success and time-to-market of Smartphone has depended on broad rollout and testing of GPRS networks that will process rich data services. Operator trials are ongoing and pending feedback on these trials, we expect Smartphone to ship in a phased rollout later this year, beginning in Europe.
How does Microsoft plan to leverage its strength in enterprise and personal computing to increase the value of its wireless platforms?
One example is e-mail. Today e-mail is recognised as a mission-critical application in most organisations, it is estimated that 50 percent of the world’s email flows through Microsoft Exchange Servers. Microsoft Mobile Information Server enables people with a Pocket PC or a Smartphone to have access to their email, calendar, and contacts on the move ensuring that they are always up-to-date.
Another example is our developer community. As the development skills for the Windows Powered Pocket PC and Smartphone are similar to the Windows platform, this empowers all Visual Basic and Visual C++ developers to write line of business applications for the Microsoft mobile platform. In EMEA alone corporates who have deployed solutions on the Microsoft platform include Brunata-Metrona, AstraZeneca, Tesco.com, Nationwide, BT and France Telecom.
Does Microsoft plan to establish the Smartphones platform in the emerging mass-market for relatively inexpensive smart devices (e.g. Nokia 3650)? Will this be possible without support from tier one handset vendors?
We believe that Microsoft Windows Powered Smartphone changes the rules for mobile phone users by opening up a world of services to extend use beyond voice and text. The new communications and entertainment features of the Windows Powered Smartphone gives people the choice of how they spend their time on the go. People can choose how to communicate whether it is email in Pocket Outlook, Instant Messaging, SMS, MMS and of course voice; and at the same time be listening to music using Windows Media Player, playing games or surfing the internet.
Initially we expect the Smartphone to appeal to the high-end market, with the view that in the next few years Smartphones will be mass-market devices. Our OEMs, Sendo, Samsung and HTC are making incredible progress and we look forward to seeing some of their devices in customers’ hands later this year.
Earlier this year, Microsoft also announced Smartphone hardware reference designs with Texas Instruments and Intel. This enables new and existing device manufacturers to enter the market without large investments in software, radio or electrical engineering. Instead, they can leverage the expertise and economies of scale, which Microsoft and our partners provide, while focusing on their own strengths whether that’s brand, industrial design, retail and distribution presence or low-cost manufacturing. Mobile operators like choice and low cost, high quality products and they also like to have their brand in the hands of customers, which bodes well for ODMs working with us like Sendo, Compal and HTC.
How is the Mobile2Market programme progressing? What sort of reaction has there been from developers and operators?
Our goal with Mobile2Market is to enable a process for the certification and market delivery of network-ready wireless applications for our Pocket PC and Smartphone software. It’s only been 5 months since we announced our intent to create the program and we’ve been pleased with the interest from both developers and network operators. For example, we’ve already had applications submitted and approved for our logo and mobile operators are very interested in making these applications available to customers using Windows Powered smart devices. We’re working now to make the delivery of Mobile2Market applications as simple and compelling as possible for mobile operators and we expect that to be in place before the end of the year.
Originally published by PMN Mobile Industry Intelligence, the subscription-based analysis and insight platform founded by Marek Pawlowski.