I said at the beginning of yesterday's 3GSM coverage to expect a rush of mobile phone coverage. Perhaps you are now seeing what I mean? Well, we are hardly half way there. I left you with the cliff hanger (don’t be so dramatic) that Microsoft is re-entering the mobile handset market. So what is the deal already?
Well, since yesterday it seems like the Redmond-based monolith has three announcements to make. First up is its collaboration with Flextronics to create a low cost Windows Mobile handset. You may not have heard of Flextronics but it has a history of manufacturing products for other companies and so should be a flexible partner. The result is a phone codenamed "Peabody" (no, I don't have any idea why it is called that either?).
Peabody is a GSM/GPRS Smartphone running Windows Mobile that will be used as a customisable reference design to be sold to manufacturers and networks. Apparently, the Peabody design is endlessly customisable boasting bespoke variants for future partners. You can see the strategy in Microsoft’s positioning here: Flextronics can build anything and then call directly on the operating system specialist to adapt the software to whatever requests are made. The last time Microsoft got into bed with a mobile manufacturer it was Sendo and the partnership proved disastrous. This one, however, could well have more legs.
Next up for Bill Gates’ company were two agreements with Nokia. First off, is a licence for the Finns to use Microsoft's ActiveSync protocol (see the image above of Amir Majidimehr, Corporate VP of Windows Digital Media Division and Anssi Vanjoki, Executive VP & GM of Nokia Multimedia sealing their entente). ActiveSync, being a fundamental part of Microsoft’s Exchange Server puts Nokia into the heart of the corporate market.
Further solidifying the link between the two companies comes a second announcement that Nokia phones will soon support Windows Media Audio files (WMA), Windows Media DRM 10 and Media Transfer Protocol. The implications for this one are obviously. Interestingly, Nokia had been in detailed discussions with RealPlayer until last week! Something obviously broke down. Can anyone say “rebound”?