Sunday, February 12, 2006

3GSM: Microsoft ventures with Vodafone, Cingular, Orange and T-Mobile could spell trouble for Blackberry

Seattle Post-Intelligencer picks up an AP article that reports Microsoft will announce at 3GSM that it is partnering with network operators, Vodafone, Cingular, Orange and T-Mobile, to allow "phones running Microsoft's latest Windows Mobile operating system" to "receive e-mails "pushed" directly from servers that handle a company's messaging - without the need for a separate mobile server or additional license payments."

According to the article, "Hewlett-Packard and three other handset makers are expected to launch the first Windows smartphones equipped with the new e-mail technology out of the box."

The partnerships will target companies using Microsoft Exchange and the four network operators will "also deliver phone software upgrades to subscribers who are already running the Windows Mobile 5.0 operating system on their smart phones."

Strand Consult wrote in a recent report, "At the end of the year, many will be asking themselves whether they really needed a Blackberry handset from RIM to check mail - and RIM might be asking themselves what went wrong. Microsoft will most probably overtake RIM as the leading mobile e-mail provider."

Although Research in Motion has 4.3 million Blackberry customers, most of then in the United States, and enjoys "the largest single share of a wireless e-mail market now estimated at about 10 million users globally," the company's recent legal problems and inability to tap certain markets is leaving the company vulnerable.

Andrew Brown at IDC said, "This means the door's been left open for others, including Microsoft." Brown believed Microsoft was "well-placed to leverage its leadership in server software - as well as the 400 million PC users already familiar with its Office applications - but still has work to do."

Brown noted Microsoft enabled phone still trail Symbian ones in Europe and will also have to prove its secure. Brown said, "IT decision makers' experience of Microsoft hasn't always been a happy one, so there is some convincing to do there."