Microsoft Stakes Mobile Claim With Windows Live on Nokia

Nokia users in 11 countries can now access Windows Live services on their mobile devices, thanks to a partnership between Microsoft and Nokia.

The pairing of the king of software and the world’s largest mobile device manufacturer is a move toward “empowering the ‘mobile lifestyle,'” according to the companies. The venture will bring Windows Live services to millions of people, the companies said.

Not in the U.S.

Those millions, however, do not include residents of the United States, Microsoft’s home country. According to the announcement, the Windows Live services are being offered to Nokia owners in Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, the U.K., Sweden, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The new suite of Windows Live services, designed specifically for Nokia devices, include Windows Live Hotmail, Windows Live Messenger, Windows Live Contacts and Windows Live Spaces. They are accessible via download by those who own Nokia S60 compatible devices. Nokia said the services will be available to Nokia Series 40 handsets next year.

The Windows Live services will be delivered using “standard Web services protocols,” and, noted Microsoft and Nokia, allow subscribers to “seamlessly move between contacts, mail, messenger, phone calls, text messaging, camera, gallery and browsing all in an integrated way.”

Windows of Opportunity

The arrangement ensures Nokia users “can take their most important online information with them on the go,” said Jari Pasanen, Nokia Multimedia’s vice-president for strategy and technology.

From the Microsoft perspective, the partnership reflects a commitment to extend services into the fast-growing mobile space.

The alliance with Nokia “will enable a much broader group of consumers to experience the benefits Windows Live has to offer, easily connecting them to the information and people that matter most from virtually anywhere,” said Steve Berkowitz, senior vice president of Microsoft’s online services business.

The companies already worked together to integrate Microsoft’s Live Search for Mobile into Nokia’s Mobile Search application. “Nokia also plans to extend this service onto the Series 40 platform to enhance the search experience across a greater range of devices,” said the companies.

Old Friends

The announcement was little surprise to Nokia watchers, said Phil Taylor, wireless media strategies service director for Strategy Analytics.

“I don’t see this as a major revolution in the sector,” Taylor told TechNewsWorld. “It does expand the Nokia/Microsoft partnership, but this has been ongoing for some time.”

Nokia announced it would add Live Search in the third quarter of 2006, he noted.

“It had also announced, earlier this month, that it would collaborate with Microsoft for music by integrating Play Ready into S60 and S40.”

Nevertheless, the addition of other Live services “takes this partnership further and demonstrates the extent to which Nokia is pushing through on its stated commitment to bring Web services to mobile phones and multimedia computers,” Taylor said.

Rise of the Internet Players

The wireless world was brutally competitive even before Internet players started to show signs of interest. Now, with Apple and Google talking about mobile, traditional wireless entities, such as Nokia, are feeling some heat.

The hurried nature of the Microsoft/Nokia deal could be an “indication of the threat that both Nokia and Microsoft see coming from the likes of Apple and Google” and might also point to “the extent to which services can and will be provided by Internet players, such as Microsoft, in collaboration with devices players rather than the wireless carriers,” Taylor said.

Jockeying for Position

Nokia sells a lot of phones, and that’s an attractive target for Microsoft, Gartner research vice-president Michael McGuire told TechNewsWorld.

The deal is part of a Microsoft effort to “strengthen its position in the enhanced-feature and consumer smartphone marketplaces,” he said.

However, it remains uncertain whether cell phone-delivered services such as those offered with Windows Live will gain traction worldwide, McGuire stated.

“In certain markets, like the U.S., we still wonder how much of these smartphone/enhanced-feature phone services are going to appeal to consumers who increasingly have wirelessly connected notebooks,” he said.

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