NineMSN Forges Mobile Services Alliance with Optus

Optus, Australia’s second-leading telco, and NineMSN, a joint venture between Microsoft and Publishing & Broadcasting, announced a strategic alliance to provide content and Web-based communications to Optus broadband and mobile customers.

Through the alliance, Optus’ six million daily customers will receive communications services including e-mail, MSN Messenger, calendar and contacts. When combined with the new portal and a personalized browser, the companies said customers will have a level of integration between their PC and mobile phone not yet seen in Australia.

Best of Both Worlds

The alliance will also provide a foundation for the joint development of new content and the delivery of communications services in the future, such as phone to PC video calls and Voice over IP (VoIP), according to the companies. The new service is set to roll out later this year.

Jupiter Research analyst Joe Wilcox told TechNewsWorld that Microsoft has been long exiting the ISP business and is working to bundle MSN through other providers. The Optus alliance, he said, is good for all parties.

“This gives an ISP the ability to offer a major, branded, recognizable portal,” Wilcox said. “It’s good for Microsoft because it exposes MSN to more people without Microsoft having to act as an ISP, managing all the infrastructure. So it’s an attempt at a best of both worlds [situation] where Microsoft is able to offer the ISP benefits without having to offer them directly.”

Keeping Australians Informed

NineMSN boasts more than 6.5 million visitors a month, according to Microsoft, and is currently ranked as Australia’s leading online publisher with over 73 percent reach to all Australian Internet users. David Cole, senior vice president of MSN, said the alliance will focus on helping consumers stay connected and informed.

“MSN’s and NineMSN’s goal is to help connect customers with the people and information that matter most to them,” Cole said. “Building deep relationships for broadband and mobile delivery is critical, as customers want to be connected both from their PC and while mobile. We’re pleased to begin work with Optus to deliver a compelling set of services to customers and look forward to taking those services to the next level with them.”

Customers will be able to access e-mail and Instant Messaging via PC or phone and unified messaging via SMS, voicemail and e-mail. They will also have the ability to synchronize their calendars or contact lists between e-mail and MSN Messenger on their phone or PC.

With the personalized browser offering member information, e-mail access and contact lists, and the portal allowing access to customized stock lists, stars and news headlines, customers are just one click away from the information they value the most.

Original Aussie Content

Optus and NineMSN will draw on PBL’s rich content resources to develop unique content for mobile and broadband. Gigabytes of storage, a generous file attachment size, and multiple sub accounts will allow Optus customers share fun, photos and files with friends and family. Parental controls and the latest MSN Hotmail spam filters and virus detection are also part of the package.

James Packer, PBL Executive Chairman and NineMSN board member, said the alliance is the result of a shared vision of the future of communications services in Australia: “It is the convergence model at its best — the combined network of PBL, MSN and Optus, working to their strengths through NineMSN to deliver popular Australian content, leading communications services and premium access products.”

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