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Microsoft & Nokia Aim to Go Stomp Blackberries
Microsoft is supposed to put Office applications on Nokia’s Symbian operating system next year
By: Maureen O'Gara
Aug. 17, 2009 11:45 AM
Microsoft and its new best friend, erstwhile rival Nokia, still the world's biggest smartphone maker despite Apple and RIM though maybe not as chi-chi, have cut a grand long-term global alliance that will see Microsoft support a mobile OS other than Windows Mobile for the very first time.
The move suggests that Microsoft units are starting to adopt more of an "it's every man for himself, boys" approach to the market.
The two companies said Wednesday that neither of them has ever embarked on an "alliance of this scope and nature" before.
Microsoft is supposed to put Office applications, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote, as well as other business communications, collaboration and device management software on Nokia's Symbian operating system next year.
Nokia, in turn, expects the widgetry to knock the hated BlackBerry for a loop.
The more consumer-oriented Apple iPhone and Google Android apparently aren't Nokia's first concern but will eventually be impacted too - if Microsoft has anything to say about it - since Nokia users are supposed to be able to view, edit, create and share Office documents. (Take that, Google Apps.)
Nokia will start the technology on its enterprise-directed Eseries phones and dribble it down over time to lower-end gadgets.
The two companies say they will co-market the solutions developed under the alliance to businesses, carriers and individuals.
They are set on creating a "range of new user experiences for future Nokia devices" and will dedicate development teams inside both companies to do it.
Microsoft Business Division president Stephen Elop, the head of Office, said the deal would let Nokia smartphone users "collaborate on Office documents from anywhere as part of our strategy to provide the best productivity experience across the PC, phone and browser."
As part of the deal, Nokia has re-upped its existing license to Exchange and has added Sharepoint.
Exchange ActiveSync is for synchronizing calendars and e-mail. Mobile access to intranet and extranet portals will be built on Microsoft's SharePoint Server.
Next year, Nokia intends to start shipping Microsoft Office Communicator Mobile on its smartphones, which will mean enterprise instant messaging and presence, and optimized conferencing and collaboration. And Microsoft System Center is supposed to provide enterprise device management.
Nokia currently has 200 million smartphone customers, 45% of the market. IDC currently estimates the mobile worker population will reach 1 billion worldwide in 2011. And Gartner just said the market for Internet-connected, e-mail capable phones was up 27% in the second quarter despite the recession.
Nokia recently cut an alliance with Intel to support Linux variants. Nokia EVP for devices Kai Oistamo, while calling Symbian Nokia's "most significant" platform, suggested during the conference call Q&A Wednesday that the company "might find other uses" for the technology developed with Microsoft. Linux is a bit of a stretch but Nokia is also getting into netbooks.
Oistamo also said that Nokia doesn't intend to use Windows Mobile.
Note to Kai: It might be nice if your new phones were really good phones first and Internet devices second. You know what it's like to try to do business over a cell phone these days? Believe me, buddy, it makes you long for nothing but land lines.
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