Microsoft and T-Mobile will cooperate in a series of initiatives that will bring the computer giant's software and applications to users of specialized mobile phones.
T-Mobile will bring Microsoft applications to cellular phone users
Microsoft has announced that T-Mobile, the mobile communications arm of Deutsche Telekom, will be the first carrier in Europe to bring its e-mail and messenger services to cellular phones.
During the opening of the technology World Congress in Cannes, France, on Monday, representatives from both companies revealed that T-Mobile users will be able to access Microsoft applications through a subscription service, Pocket MSN, on specialized phones by the end of the year.
T-Mobile intends to launch the Microsoft Windows powered "Smartphone" across its major markets in the summer of 2003. Smartphone-based handsets, manufactured by Taiwanese company High Tech Computer Corporation, will be enabled to receive the specially developed Microsoft Hotmail email, Internet and Messenger applications.
T-Mobile takes on the competition.
Pocket computer users will also be able to access the new applications, which will also include Pocket Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player and Pocket Outlook, through the T-Mobile connection. The Smartphone with its range of Microsoft applications is a direct assault on a market currently being dominated by rival companies Nokia and Siemens.
Microsoft to charge for previously free services
The agreements between the two companies may prove to be historic within the telecommunications market as Pocket MSN heralds Microsoft's first attempt to charge consumers for Internet services that until now were free of charge, such as instant messaging and e-mail. Recent surveys, such as the one conducted by German market analysts Fittkau and Maass, suggest that users are not put off by paying for previously free online content. With 35 percent of Germans already accessing information that requires a fee, the move by Microsoft has the potential to be very profitable.
MSN Internet services boast over 300 million users worldwide while MSN mobile services are currently offered by 36 carriers in 21 countries across the globe. In the region covering Europe, the Middle East and Africa, this includes 22 mobile operators representing 57 million mobile phone users in 13 countries.
The announcement is the culmination of a strategic plan stretching back to the beginning of the decade. Microsoft made clear three years ago that it wanted a piece of the mobile-phone software market, but it has been slow to win over established mobile-phone makers with the Pocket MSN concept, having signed up just one of the top five players: South Korea's Samsung Electronics.
However, development continued in earnest. The American computer giant agreed with Deutsche Telekom in March 2002 to work together on the third generation (3G) mobile technology despite industry fears that it could turn out to be a very expensive "white elephant".
Added boost to 3G's recovering reputation
3G phones are now taking off.
The beleaguered 3G technology has been subject to widely reported problems due to the crippling fees incurred by those providers bidding for licenses and a list of embarrassing technical discrepancies. The agreement between Microsoft and T-Mobile, however, may be another step in 3G's slow recovery process after the huge surge in popularity of mobile phones with integrated cameras and Multimedia Messaging Services (MMS) have boosted its stock.
Considering the public's seemingly unending fascination with new technology, the cooperation between Microsoft and T-Mobile could signal a new telecommunication revolution throughout Europe and beyond. T-Mobile has over 82 million customers and operates mobile companies in the USA, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Czech Republic, Poland, and Russia - all providing fertile markets for the new services.
"Next big trend" says T-Mobile
Commenting on the developments, Nikesh Arora, chief marketing officer of T-Mobile told assembled reporters at the World Congress opening: "This cooperation with Microsoft shows our continuous commitment to making and shaping the mobile data market. We believe with entertainment, messaging will be the next big trend in mobile communications."
Judy Gibbons, vice president of Microsoft's European, Middle Eastern and African region added: "Our leading communications tools have already proved hugely popular to carriers and consumers via SMS. T-Mobile’s plans to offer Pocket MSN to its customers is an exciting step towards making MSN internet services available any time, any place and on any device."