Microsoft makes new bid for mobile phone dominance

14 Feb 2005

New reference platform promised high volumes, low cost and flexibility

Microsoft is making another bid for the mobile phone market with the announcement of a new Windows Mobile based reference platform codenamed Peabody.

The product was announced at the 3GSM World Congress 2005 alongside co-developer, the Singapore based Flextronics. The Peabody is being touted as a high volume, low priced device with sufficient flexibility so that a wide range of models can be built from the same reference platform.

The new platform can support both video and still images, a wide range of different formats with Windows Media Player and offers seamless integration with Microsoft desktop applications such as Outlook email, calendaring and contacts.

The Peabody platform currently runs on GSM networks used Europe and much of the world. Flextronics says it is working on a new range of devices based on the next generation of Windows Mobile software to run on EDGE, the 3G` standard in North America.

Microsoft hopes that the low cost along with the familiar Windows Mobile interface will tempt the big mobile phone manufacturers into backing the new platform and finally allow it to challenge the market dominance of Symbian in the mobile market where it is and unaccustomed third place

According to analysts Canalys, Symbian took a whopping 82 per cent of the worldwide Smartphone OS market in 2004 followed by Palm with seven percent and then Microsoft with 6.2 per cent.

Microsoft is also looking to tempt mobile operators with some new research which indicates that they stand to make more money with Windows Mobile. According to a study released by Microsoft devices based on Windows Mobile deliver 37 per cent more average revenue per user than handhelds based on its rivals.

`Microsoft is providing smarter, advanced mobile solutions and creating business models that help mobile operators generate new revenue streams," said Pieter Knook, VP of Microsoft's Mobile and Embedded Devices Division and Communications Sector Business. He went on to say that device based on the Windows Mobile platform, allowed operators to offer products and services that encourage a broader range of customers to use higher-revenue-generating smart devices.

This will be Microsoft's second big crack and developing a reference platform for mobile phones. The last attempt ended in acrimony in 2002 when Microsoft's design partner Sendo pulled out at the last minute alleging that Redmond was passing company confidential information over to Far Eastern manufacturer. The companies later reached an out of court settlement.

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