Microsoft and Nokia Collaborate, But Still Compete, in Wireless Mobility Apps

Microsoft and Nokia, archrivals in the enterprise mobility applications space, announced two agreements at the 3GSM World Congress in Cannes, France this week that will make it easier for wireless app developers to synch Nokia's handhelds with Microsoft's Exchange Server 2003 and for consumers to download and play music using Microsoft's Media Player.

Nokia's enterprise solutions group said that it has licensed Microsoft's Exchange Server ActiveSync protocol for wireless and direct synchronization between Exchange Server and mobile devices that Nokia will introduce later this year.

Nokia will create a wireless link between smart phones running Nokia's Series 60 and Series 80 software and Exchange Server 2003 for e-mail, calendaring and contacts. According to Nokia, enterprise customers will have a cost-effective and secure wireless e-mail solution.

Nokia will continue to support the OMA Data Synchronization protocol and Nokia PC Suite that uses OMA to connect smart phones and desktop PCs and laptops.

E-mail is the first app that enterprises look to deploy when setting up enterprise mobility solutions, says Mary McDowell, senior VP and general manager, Nokia's enterprise solutions group. "Licensing this protocol provides our customers with seamless integration between our mobile devices and their back-ends," McDowell says.

Nokia cites research conducted by IDC that indicates 84 percent of businesses that already have integrated wireless devices with corporate systems (or are planning to in the next year), will deploy e-mail first, followed by personal information management and calendar apps, with customer relationship or sales force automation at the same time, or soon after.

McDowell terms the agreement a "collaboration of two giants," although she concedes this agreement does not mean the relationship between two companies will thaw significantly. "Microsoft and Nokia have not always been on friendly terms," McDowell says. "The entire cellular industry has worked hard to keep Microsoft out."

Nokia already has at least five agreements with e-mail solutions providers. The Microsoft agreement for Exchange Server is one more initiative in its bid to win the enterprise, say a number of Nokia's executives.

Microsoft and Nokia also said they have teamed up to make it possible for wireless phone operators to offer consumers a mobile music service on handhelds and PCs running Windows XP. The mobile music service from Nokia and Loudeye is based on the OMA DRM and MPEG AA standards and enables consumers to search, listen, download and pay for music from a mobile phone. On PCs, consumers will use Windows Media Player to playback and manage music files.

Wireless operators can now offer their customers the ability to purchase and download music using Nokia's handsets on PCs running Windows XP.

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