Symbian Syncs with Microsoft Exchange

Mobile operating system maker Symbian today announced that it has reached an agreement with Microsoft that will enable it to synchronize mobile devices running Symbian with Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 applications and data such as e-mail, calendar and contacts.

While it competes with Microsoft on the platform level — where Microsoft’s Windows CE has failed to find the same success as Symbian’s operating systems for hand-held devices — Symbian recognizes that to compete in the enterprise space, it must be compatible with enterprise mainstays such as Exchange Server, according to Roger Entner, Yankee Group program manager.

“I think it’s an acknowledgment of reality,” Entner told TechNewsWorld. “Microsoft Exchange Server is one of two de facto standards for the enterprise world and enterprise e-mail.”

Expanding the Number

Both companies said the licensing agreement, details of which were not disclosed, will allow them to reach more customers and offer them more flexibility.

Symbian said the deal will enable mobile phone manufacturers that license its technology and architecture to offer direct over-the-air (OTA) synchronization capabilities with Exchange Server personal information management (PIM) data.

“Symbian and Microsoft together are significantly expanding the number of customers who can directly access their corporate e-mail and PIM data from wireless devices,” said a statement from Dave Thompson, Microsoft vice president of the Exchange Server product group.

Enterprise Move

Yankee Group’s Entner said Symbian — which has done well with consumer devices but has struggled somewhat with corporate customers — is looking to strengthen its pitch to enterprise users. That effort centers around the Symbian Series 60 operating system.

“It’s very good that companies do, for a change, what’s good for customers and do not deem dogmatically that this may be the enemy,” Entner said.

Phil Redman, Gartner research vice president, told TechNewsWorld that the ActiveSync support may help Symbian in the enterprise market, where it lacks a major presence. Many customers, however, are waiting for a more seamless and flexible middleware solution, he said. In the meantime, they are opting for the Blackberry synchronization technology and protocol.

Demand for Deals

Yankee Group senior analyst Laura DiDio called the move a pragmatic one for Symbian, a way of responding to Microsoft’s size and presence while also recognizing the increased demand for remote access to e-mail and other data via mobile handsets.

“Basically, it’s an acknowledgment on the part of the telecom remote and wireless industry to customer demand,” DiDio told TechNewsWorld.

DiDio said the deal gives Microsoft more value from its assets in the mobile area, which it has found difficult to crack. The analyst noted that there have been more than 1,700 similar deals between Microsoft and telecom providers, and that more deals involving remote access to data are likely on the way.

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