Microsoft, Ericsson Team Up to Bring Information Anytime, Anywhere, to Carriers and Consumers

REDMOND, Wash., Dec. 8, 1999 — You’re in the back seat of a cab and traffic looks dicey. You pull out your cell phone and touch a single button for traffic information. The phone, always connected to the Internet, tells your carrier your location. The carrier’s computers immediately beam back advice on a faster route for your cab ride so you might be able to catch your plane.

That scenario is fiction for now, but it will likely become reality in just a couple of years, thanks in part to a new strategic partnership announced this week between Microsoft and Ericsson. The agreement, based on the companies’ shared vision of convenient and fast messaging and information access from any device, will lead to the development of complete solutions for the wireless Internet.

Microsoft is providing a range of software communications technologies, including Microsoft Exchange Server and Microsoft Mobile Explorer Web browser, which is specifically designed for phones and other mobile devices. And Ericsson is providing its state-of-the-art cell phone technology, communications protocols and wireless communications infrastructure.

“It’s a tremendous opportunity to have Ericsson, a leading wireless solutions supplier, work with us to bring the strengths of the PC to the wireless world,”
said Thomas Koll, vice president of Microsoft’s Network Solutions Group.
“This agreement will make it easier for carriers to extend their existing communications solutions directly to the wireless Web, giving those users full access to their corporate intranet while they’re on the go. And consumers will see countless new solutions that enable them to enjoy life and stay in touch with family and friends more easily and inexpensively.”

“Ericsson’s vision is about openness and connectivity and offering tremendous ease-of-use for consumers,”
said Kurt Hellstr
m, president of Ericsson.
“Our leadership in mobile phones and infrastructure, combined with Microsoft’s unmatched strengths in Internet and enterprise messaging software, will make more of this vision into a reality for consumers everywhere.”

The Web-based mobile phones envisioned by this agreement would bring much of the power and functionality of the PC into consumers’ hands. Embedded digital cameras would allow cell phone users to exchange photos, and Web browsing functionality would simplify mobile tasks such as making restaurant reservations or finding driving directions. For the mobile professional, e-mail and scheduling information would be a click away; information from the company intranet would be easily available; and voice messages could be retrieved as streaming media.

These potential new features


based on the joint Microsoft and Ericsson goal to create a seamless, complete solution for next-generation wireless communications. At the
“back end,”
the solution starts with Microsoft Exchange Server, which the two companies will extend to the wireless Web. Since Exchange Server is already the leading corporate messaging and collaboration system, extending it to mobile users will boost reliability and cut costs by eliminating the need for new, expensive and untried technologies, as well as the need for creating gateways between those technologies and Exchange.

On the
“front end,”
the scenario includes

Microsoft Mobile Explorer. The open software platform for wireless phones will support powerful wireless data computing


four-line phones to

devices with

high-resolution displays capable of running a full suite of on- and off-line e-mail, personal information management (PIM) and Internet applications. Because Mobile Explorer will be highly flexible and customizable, manufacturers such as Ericsson will be able to adapt all or some of its features to support specific functions in the various types of mobile devices they’ll create.

The phones and services made possible by the Microsoft and Ericsson agreement


part of a rapidly growing market. Analysts agree that in three years there will be about 1 billion cell phone subscribers, and that cell phone handsets will far outnumber conventional computers. Most of those handsets will run over data-capable, digital networks. These networks will provide the increasing bandwidth that applications like those imagined above will require. The 10 kilobits per second (kbps) available today could climb to 50 kbps by 2001 and to more than 1 megabit per second (mbps) by 2003.

“The agreement with Ericsson is one of the most powerful ways for us to demonstrate our global commitment to wireless providers and customers,”
said Koll.
“We can’t do this alone and we wouldn’t want to. With Ericsson’s participation, we’re on the verge of realizing major portions of the vision of delivering information anytime, anywhere on any device for consumers and business users everywhere. This is a very exciting time to be in this marketplace.”