Posts tagged Microsoft
Technology titans Nokia and Microsoft are joining forces to make smart phones in a push to challenge rivals like Apple and Google, hoping to revive their own fortunes in a market they have struggled to keep up with.
Nokia Corp., the world’s largest cell phone maker, said Friday it will use Microsoft Corp.’s Windows Phone software as the main platform for its smart phones in an effort to recover lost share from Apple’s iPhone and Android, Google’s software for phones and tablets.
The move marks a major strategy shift for Nokia, which has previously equipped devices with its own open-share software. Analysts said the deal was a bigger win for Microsoft than Nokia, whose CEO Stephen Elop in a leaked memo this week compared his company to a burning oil platform with “more than one explosion … fueling a blazing fire around us.”
Nokia share price plummeted 14 percent to (EURO)7.00 ($9.52) in late trading in Helsinki.
The partnership will “deliver an ecosystem with unrivaled global reach and scale,” Nokia said, but warned that it would also bring “significant uncertainties” and it expects profit margins to be hit by strong competition from rivals.
Elop, a Canadian national, joined Nokia from a senior executive position at Microsoft last year. The first non-Finn to lead Nokia, he is under intense pressure to reverse the company’s market share losses to North American and Asian competitors.
“Nokia is at a critical juncture, where significant change is necessary and inevitable,” Elop said. He added the company was aiming at “regaining our smart phone leadership, reinforcing our mobile device platform and realizing our investments in the future.”
Elop warned of major restructuring which would result in more global layoffs, saying Nokia must “improve the speed and nimbleness and agility of the organization,” but gave no details.
Nokia is still the biggest handset maker but its market share has tumbled from 41 percent in 2008 to 31 percent at the end of 2010.
It has also lost its innovative edge in the fiercely competitive top-end sector and is virtually invisible – with a 3 percent share – in the world’s largest smart phone market, North America.
Apples’ iPhone has set the standard for today’s smart phones and Research In Motion Ltd.’s BlackBerrys have become the favorite of the corporate set. More recently, Google Inc.’s Android software has emerged as the choice for phone makers that want to challenge the iPhone.
Speaking to analysts in London, Elop declined to say when Nokia would introduce a new device running on Windows Phone. But he said Nokia won’t bury its own Symbian operating system or the new MeeGo platform that it is currently developing.
More than 200 million phones, with 150 million more expected on the market, use Symbian technology, seen by some developers as clumsy and dated. At the end of last year it was surpassed by Android as the world’s No. 1 smart phone software, according to the Canalys research firm.
Microsoft CEO Steven Ballmer said the new partnership with Nokia would give them “more innovation (and) greater global reach.” The two companies will “collaborate closely on development … so we can really align and drive the future revolution of the mobile phone,” he said.
A key challenge will be to produce quality devices with a hip factor that helps position Windows Phone as an attractive alternative to iPhone or Android. in a market where image plays a central role.
Windows Phone 7, launched last year, has a lot of catching up to do both in the number of users and “apps” available for the phones.
Nokia said its input in the partnership will include areas “such as imaging, where Nokia is a market leader” and map services, while the new device will use Microsoft’s Bing search engine.
Neil Mawston from Strategy Analytics in London said Microsoft would benefit more from the partnership.
“In terms of expanding their distribution reach, this is a huge win for Microsoft,” he said.
For Nokia the deal leaves uncertainty about Symbian, which Mawston said he expects to be phased out within two years and “completely, or at least mostly, replaced by Windows Phone.”
Elop said Nokia will announce a new leadership team and organizational structure “with a clear focus on speed, results and accountability,” sending shivers of unease through Finland which prides itself on a company that grew from making paper and gum boots into a global high-tech leader.
Elop acknowledged the layoffs would also hit Finnish units, where most of Nokia’s research is carried out, but said there were no plans to move company headquarters from Finland.
Several hundred workers at Nokia’s Tampere unit in southern Finland left work early on Friday, in a demonstration of concern about their future.
“They are worried. They want the information (about possible layoffs) as soon as possible, but I don’t think it even exists yet,” said Kari Kiila, a union representative at the Tampere plant.
Nokia, which claims 1.3 billion daily users of its devices, said it hopes the partnership with Microsoft will lead to capturing the next billion users to join the Internet in developing growth markets.
Jyrki Ali-Yrkko, from the Research Institute of the Finnish Economy, said the partnership was “surprising.”
“The strengths will be in Microsoft’s strong position in various corporate solutions and server solutions, but its weakness is that Microsoft perhaps doesn’t have a broad, user-oriented group of developers like those around Android or Apple,” Ali-Yrkko said.
The Espoo-based company, near Helsinki, employs 132,500 people – 7 percent more than a year ago.
Windows Phone 7 today went from also-ran to contender as Nokia and Microsoft announced a far-reaching deal for Windows Phone 7 to power Nokia phones. For the first time in years, Microsoft is relevant in the mobile market.
Although details are somewhat lacking, Windows Phone 7 will replace MeeGo and Symbian as the operating system for Nokia phones. Nokia, by the way, won’t abandon Symbian immediately. Instead, according to the New York Times, Symbian will “become a franchise business and that Nokia expected to sell another 150 million mobile phones before halting development.”
The move goes well beyond an agreement to use Windows Phone 7 on Nokia devices — the companies also announced a broad strategic alliance that includes Bing, Nokia maps, development tools, and more.
On the official Nokia blog, an open letter from Nokia CEO Stephen Elop and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said that under the agreement:
• Nokia will adopt Windows Phone as its primary smartphone strategy, innovating on top of the platform in areas such as imaging, where Nokia is a market leader.
• Nokia will help drive and define the future of Windows Phone. Nokia will contribute its expertise on hardware design, language support, and help bring Windows Phone to a larger range of price points, market segments and geographies.
The blog added that Bing will power search “across Nokia devices and services” and that Microsoft adCenter will power advertising services.
There’s a lot more as well. But the real takeaway here is that Windows Phone 7 will power the phones of the largest phone maker in the world, that Bing will power search, and that Microsoft will run the ad services.
That’s a trifecta for Microsoft if there ever was one. The company will now have massive, worldwide distribution for Windows Phone 7. And it will share in revenue from the ads delivered on phones, due to Bing and Microsoft running the ad network on phones.
At a joint press conference with Ballmer, Elop correctly noted that in the phone business, “the game has changed from battle of devices to war of ecosystems.” Before today’s announcement only two of those ecosystems really counted for smartphones — iOS and Android. Today, Windows Phone 7 makes three.
While thinking about the hoopla that’s sure to accompany the long-awaited release of the Verizon iPhone later this week, one question kept popping into my head: Is Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) missing out on the mobile computing movement?
The company that popularized the graphical user interface, thus making personal computers accessible to the masses, has yet to deliver a truly successful mobile product.
Its latest effort, the Windows Phone 7 operating system, was well received by industry analysts, and early sales numbers haven’t been horrible. Roughly 1.5 million smartphones running Windows Phone 7 were sold in the first six weeks after the operating system’s release, according to Microsoft.
Windows Phone 7′s early performance is less impressive, however, when you consider Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) reported selling 3 million iPhones in that device’s first three weeks on the market.
The iPhone Maintains Momentum
Yes, the iPhone was released more than three years ago, but the fact that Verizon had to stop taking pre-orders the same day it started is a clear indication that this product continues to ride a big wave of momentum. It’s also clear that the other big player in the mobile space is not Microsoft, but Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), which claims that 300,000 phones running its Android operating system are being activated every day.
Apple, with its iPad, also dominates the tablet computing space, which over the long term is likely to be where the real mobile battle is fought as consumers opt to trade in bulky laptops for the lighter, more portable tablets.
Google has yet to prove that Android can play in the iPad’s arena, but several hardware manufacturers are set to offer upscale Android-based tablets this year, with the competitive Samsung Galaxy already in stores.
Microsoft also promises more Windows tablets will be coming soon — Dell (Nasdaq: DELL), for one, just announced plans to deliver a 10-inch tablet running Windows 7 later this year — but I’m not expecting them to make much of a splash.
I feel strange denigrating Microsoft’s mobile efforts, mainly because I remember sitting in meetings with Microsoft executives giving PowePoint presentations on tablet computers in the mid-90s. This was during the period in which Steve Jobs had been forced out as CEO of Apple, and no one in the company seemed to have a clue about creating innovative products.
Those Windows-running machines — which gave users the option of inputting data either through the keyboard or by using a stylus and their own handwriting — were the coolest thing I had ever seen at the time. They also convinced me that Microsoft was poised to dominate the future of computing.
As I reflect back on those days, I’m forced to wonder how we got to the point of Microsoft being in danger of becoming an also-ran in an area in which it had such a big head start. Why couldn’t Microsoft and its partners build a market for those early tablets? I can only surmise that Microsoft erred by becoming too enamored of Windows.
It’s the Operating System
Meanwhile, Apple built the iPhone to run on iOS, a new operating system that was completely separate from the Mac OS that runs on Apple computers. Creating a new operating system allowed Apple to offer features, such as the touchscreen interface, that work much better on smaller mobile devices than on PCs — and users were quick to pick up on that fact.
The iPhone has achieved cult-like status because consumers believe it has the best user interface — and the largest ecosystem of applications — in the mobile phone space.
Android phones are selling well because they mimic the iPhone to a large degree, both with the user interface and the applications marketplace.
Microsoft claims that Windows Phone 7 is a completely new operating platform, built specifically for mobile devices and divorced from any previous versions of Windows. Yet, at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was still expressing a desire to have users connect all their devices — PCs, tablets and phones — through a single operating platform. That’s an indication that Microsoft has yet to give up on the vision of a world with nothing but Windows.
The Microsoft-Nokia Alliance
There’s been talk lately of Microsoft striking an alliance that would put Windows Phone 7 into Nokia (NYSE: NOK) smartphones. An announcement to that effect could come this week, around the same time Verizon starts connecting iPhone users to its network.
Could the Nokia connection be the break Microsoft has needed to push it into the mobile big leagues? Nokia is still the leading supplier of mobile handsets. So, that partnership could put Windows Phone 7 devices in a lot of retail outlets around the world.
I would argue, however, that this partnership would be more of a gamble on Nokia’s part than a potential game-changer for Microsoft. Nokia has been losing market share recently, and it would enter a partnership with Microsoft in hopes of reversing that trend.
That makes sense on the surface, given that the mobile phone space is much more about software than hardware. The problem is that Windows Phone 7 has not proven so far to be as attractive to consumers as Apple’s iOS or Google’s Android operating system. I don’t see how putting Windows Phone 7 into Nokia handsets changes that dynamic.
Microsoft is going to have do something to make its mobile operating system attractive in its own right, or it may have to bow out of the mobile arena altogether.
There’s more potential evidence for a deal between Nokia and Microsoft for Windows Phone 7: Nokia CEO Stephen Elop will likely fire his top management team, including the one in charge of Nokia’s mobile phone division.
Rumors of such a Microsoft-Nokia deal have been rife ever since analyst Adnaan Ahmad of Berenberg Bank in Hamburg wrote an open letter in the Financial Times suggesting that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and top Nokia executive Stephen Elop (a former Microsoft exec) form a partnership.
To Elop he suggested:
“Announce an EXCLUSIVE deal with your ex-colleague, Steve: you get access to their WP7 intellectual property (IPR) scot-free and access to the US market where your share has dived to the low single-digit level, and in so doing cut your bloated handset business R&D budget by at least €1bn ($1.4 billion), or 30%, which should add 300 bps to your operating margin. Get rid of your own proprietary high-end solution (MEEGO) — it’s the biggest joke in the tech industry right now and will put you even further behind Apple and Google.
“Focus your high-end portfolio around WP7, and over time you can take the cost down (that’s Steve’s job and cost base) to get this into the mid-range market.
To Ballmer, he wrote in the open letter:
“two million units shipped in the last quarter is not really much to write home about, given $500m in marketing programmes (ouch), but with Nokia on-side, you get access to a potential 20-25 percent global share over time–and exclusivity. You need to tie yourself to a high-volume player to be relevant.”
The arrangement could boost Windows Phone 7 sales in Microsoft’s attempt to gain against Android and the iPhone, and help Nokia, the one-time U.S. market leader, which has fallen to only 2 percent of the U.S. market.
Reuters quotes the German weekly Wirtschaftswoche as reporting that Mary T. McDowell, in charge of Nokia’s mobile phones unit, and Niklas Savander, the manager of the markets unit, may both be on the chopping block. Also possibly being let go might be Chief Development Officer Kai Oistamo and Tero Ojanpera, the manager responsible for services and mobile solutions.
Given that these are the people in charge of the strategy that has led to Nokia’s current woes, it would make sense if they were to go if a Microsoft deal were in the works.
In addition, Reuters says that Elop may make an announcement about a Nokia reorganization, including the shakeup, at a February 11 speech Elop will be giving in London to investors — the same meeting at which it is rumored he’ll announce the Microsoft deal.
Of course, there’s no way to know yet whether any of these rumors are true. But a Nokia-Microsoft deal would a big win for Microsoft, because without it, there’s no clear way for Windows Phone 7 to make up any ground against the iPhone and Android.
Microsoft and Nokia may announce a strategic alliance within days as the two companies, which are struggling against Apple and Android, are rumoured to announce a software partnership.
According to the New York Times, the deal would help both Microsoft and Nokia and the rumour had an immediate positive impact on the share price of the world’s biggest mobile phone manufacturer.
Many analysts have called upon Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, who worked for Microsoft as the head of Business Division, to collaborate with his former employee to deliver a compelling hardware and software solution.
Such a move would be a radical departure from Nokia’s current stand; the phone manufacturer uses Symbian on all its smartphones and is planning to use Meego, which is the fusion of Intel’s Moblin and its own Maemo OS.
If the announcement comes on the 11th of February as predicted by the New York Times, it will happen only three days before the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
Nokia and Microsoft have been partners for a long time; Nokia uses Microsoft Applications on some phones while Microsoft licenses data from Navteq – which is owned by Nokia – for Bing Maps.
Partnering with Microsoft will almost certainly mean that Nokia will have to give up Meego and Symbian; there’s also the remote possibility that Microsoft either acquires Nokia or becomes a shareholder.
Microsoft has revealed that a Yahoo Mail IMAP server glitch is causing the now-famous Windows Phone 7 (WP7) ‘phantom data’ problem, various reports confirm.
In January, the Redmond, Washington-based company revealed that the glitch which caused WP7 devices to eat up data allotments was caused by an unnamed third-party.
superfluity / Flickr / (CC BY-NC-SA)
According to consumer complaints, WP7 users were shocked that their devices seemed to consume significantly higher than usual data over mobile phone carriers even when not prompted by a user and even while connected to a WiFi network.
The issue was acknowledged by Microsoft when the British Broadcasting Company queried them causing a dent in the then just-launched WP7.
The confirmation comes after an independent tech blogger, Rafael Rivera of Within Windows, pointed that a Yahoo IMAP server issue might be making WP7 devices download “~25 times as much data as it normally would.”
“We have determined that an inefficiency exists in the synchronization of e-mail between the Windows Phone Mail client and Yahoo Mail. This inefficiency can result in larger than expected data usage for a very small percentage of users,” Microsoft said in a statement.
According to CNet, Yahoo apologized for the “inefficiency”, saying that a fix is under way.
“Tens of millions of people check their Yahoo Mail from their mobile device each day, and we know they want their mobile mail experience to be fast, rich, and real-time,” Yahoo told CNet.
“While our default settings on all mobile platforms realize this approach, we have determined that an inefficiency exists in the synchronization of e-mail between Windows Phone Mail clients and Yahoo Mail, which can result in larger than expected data usage for some users,” the company added.
However, Ars Technica, reports that Yahoo “points the finger back at Microsoft” saying that if the Software giant “switched to a “standard” way of communicating with Yahoo!’s servers” with its Windows Phone 7 mobile operating system, the problem would not have occurred.
Microsoft on Tuesday released an iPhone version of OneNote, the digital notebook software, in one of the first examples of Microsoft making a portion of Office available on non-Windows phones.
Free for “a limited time,” OneNote on the iTunes App Store lets users create and view documents on their Apple devices and sync changes on Windows Live SkyDrive, making them available from their phone or PC.
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OneNote is part of the Microsoft Office suite, but for now Microsoft’s other Office applications are available only on Windows mobile devices, with the exception of Microsoft Communicator Mobile for Nokia phones. A comprehensive version of Office can be used on Windows Phone 7, but not on today’s Android or iPhone devices. Microsoft said in the future customers can expect more Office products on Nokia phones, because of a partnership with that company, and perhaps on other mobile operating systems.
“You can expect Office to continue to evolve across different platforms,” says Jason Bunge, senior director of Office products management.
This latest version of OneNote Mobile was designed for the iPhone only, Bunge said. However, it can technically be used on the iPad or iPod Touch, at least according to the product description on the iTunes App Store.
While Microsoft hadn’t ported OneNote to the iPhone and iPad previously, a third-party app by Businessware Technologies Inc., called “MobileNoter,” already gave both iOS and Android users access to their OneNote documents.
Microsoft Office corporate vice president Takeshi Numoto announced OneNote Mobile in a blog post that trumpets Microsoft’s willingness to bring its software to multiple types of devices, even those running non-Microsoft operating systems.
“Today’s release is another step in Office evolving to serve our 750 million customers worldwide,” Numoto writes. “Whether it’s on a PC or Mac, a mobile phone or online through the Web Apps on multiple browsers, we continue to bring Office to the devices, platforms, and operating systems our customers are using.”
The OneNote desktop software is not offered on Mac, but a hosted version can be used by Mac and even Linux users over the Internet as part of Office Web Apps.
OneNote, Numoto writes, is “the unsung hero of Office … a digital notebook that lets you put everything you need to remember in one electronic place and then easily find it wherever you are. I use it every day. Think of it as a digital file cabinet for all the random bits of information that are too hard to keep track of in your head. According to comScore, 78 million PCs in the U.S. have OneNote – more than a third of all the PCs in the country.”
OneNote Mobile on the iPhone will look a bit different than the product on Windows Phone 7, but the features and functionality are about the same, Bunge says. This is the third Microsoft app on iPhone, after Bing and Windows Live Messenger.
Bunge did not say whether there are roadblocks to getting the software onto Android devices, but in previous interviews Microsoft officials have said Android poses development challenges because the physical configurations of the phones, such as the types of buttons, can vary across devices. However, that did not stop Microsoft from creating a Bing application for Android.
In addition to creating and editing documents, the iPhone version of OneNote will work with phone-specific features, like the camera. Already, Bunge says student users of OneNote take their iPhones to class and snap pictures of, say, a whiteboard, which they later sync to their OneNote accounts. Now they will be able to perform the sync immediately. Construction workers have used OneNote in similar situations, taking pictures of projects or equipment and later syncing the photos to their OneNote accounts, he said.
OneNote Mobile users can work offline as well, with changes being synced to the server once an Internet connection is established.
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The need for retailers to incorporate mobile technology into shopping experiences was a hot topic last week at the National Retail Federation’s Big Show in New York City. Like many major industry players, Microsoft Business Solutions was on the mobile bandwagon.
“What Microsoft is doing together with a lot of our partners is creating enabling experiences and technologies to do that,” said Microsoft’s Manager of Retail Product Management Brendan O’Meara, during an interview at the Microsoft booth. “One of those being mobile, and mobile is something that obviously people are increasingly using, not as just their telephone, but really as their personal assistance to help them with all aspects of their lives — shopping being a great example of that.”
O’Meara demonstrated how one of those mobile applications can make grocery shopping and cooking dinner easier for consumers. The solution helps customers find recipes based on the ingredients already in their carts. (Shoppers scan the bar codes of each product as they place them in their carts.) The app could also suggest other ingredients, give nutrient info, rate recipes and calculate how long they take to make.
“It’s a great example of mobile technology making your life a whole lot easier because none of us has the time to walk around the grocery store,” he said. “This gets you really directed to just what you need.”
Click below to watch O’Meara’s demo.
Microsoft Corp. said in an interview that it still has no plans for a specially-designed mobile platform for video games. Instead, the company will concentrate on better Xbox Live experience on phones powered by Windows Phone 7 operating system (OS).
“This is our mobile platform for games. The same people who make the Halo game, the same development folks, work on this, this is our mobile console,” said Kevin Unangst, senior global diretor of PC and mobile gaming at Microsoft, in an interview with Kotaku web-site.
Rumours about a portable game console from Microsoft have been circulating for years. But considering success of games designed for Apple iOS and Google Android mobile operating systems, it does not seem to make a lot of sense to design a competitor for Nintendo DS/3DS or Sony PSP. Instead, Microsoft needs to persuade game developers to design games for Windows Phone 7 and Xbox Live platforms.
At present there are about 5500 applications designed for Windows Phone 7, but it is unclear how many of those apps are games and how competitive they are. As a result, it is impossible to say whether Windows Phone 7 is a competitive mobile gaming problem. Electronic Arts and PopCar Games already support Microsoft WP7 platform, whereas companies like Activision, Epic and a number of others still have not announced their commitment.
Cell phones with Windows Phone 7 operating system are made following strict guidelines from Microsoft. Hardware should provide certain amount of performance and even hardware buttons should be located in certain parts of the phones. As a result, Microsoft Windows Phone 7-based devices deliver similar and consistent experience despite of the fact that those smartphones come from different manufacturers.
On the 21st of December, 2010, Microsoft said that 1.5 million Windows Phone 7-based phones had been sold. Windows Phone 7 launched in Europe and the Asia Pacific region on October 21 and in the United States and Canada on November 8.
Tags: Microsoft, Windows, Windows Phone