Q&A: Windows Mobile Software for Smartphone Debuts in North America

REDMOND, Wash., Oct. 21, 2003 Today marks a major milestone for Microsoft’s mobile devices business – the availability of the Motorola MPx200 with Microsoft Windows Mobile software from AT & T Wireless. The announcement signals the first availability of a Windows Mobile-based Smartphone in North America. To learn more about what the announcement means for customers as well as software developers, PressPass spoke with Juha Christensen , corporate vice president of the Mobile Devices Division at Microsoft.

Christensen calls the introduction of Windows Mobile Smartphones the most significant product launch in which he’s participated quite a statement, considering that early in his career, Christensen was a vice president at Psion when that company launched the world’s first handheld computer. Later, he co-founded Symbian Ltd., the joint software venture by mobile giants Nokia, Ericsson, Motorola and others. Three years ago, Christensen joined Microsoft to oversee the mobile devices division and Windows Mobile software for Smartphones and Pocket PCs.

PressPass: The launch of the Motorola MPx200, the first Windows Mobile-based Smartphone in North America, is obviously important for Microsoft. Why is it important for customers?

Christensen : Not only does this launch for the first time bring the advantages of Windows Mobile-based software to users in North America, but also it does so in a product from two well-respected mobile companies: Motorola — a leading handset manufacturer handset maker — and AT & T Wireless, with its superb GSM network. There can’t be a more trusted combination of partners to assure customers of the most powerful and reliable product and service.

PressPass: Which customers do you expect to benefit from the availability of Motorola MPx200?

Christensen : Devices with Windows Mobile software appeal to a broad range of users, but we expect mobile professionals will find the most immediate benefit from the Motorola MPx200. It lets them take advantage of the advanced integration between Windows Mobile software and their desktop Microsoft Outlook experience. It’s a familiar experience that gives them easy, wireless access to their contacts, e-mail, calendar and task lists so they can have all of this information with them, whenever they want and wherever they go.

Windows Mobile software provides a single Inbox where customers can view all incoming e-mails, voicemails and SMS (short message service) messages at a glance. And they don’t have to wait to get back to the office to synchronize their data. After using AT & T Wireless’ over-the-air provisioning solution, which simplifies deployments of these phones for corporate information technology departments, customers can get updates
via synchronization with Microsoft Exchange Server 2003. The user interface, hardware buttons and predictive text make entering information quick and easy. All this makes for a superb experience for the mobile professional.

Motorola MPx200 mobile phone.

PressPass: So Windows Mobile software is all business?

Christensen : Great business-based features are crucial, but that’s not all that Windows Mobile provides. We all know the adage about
“all work and no play.”
So the Motorola MPx200 also lets people make the most of their personal time. They can listen to music and view video files with the Windows Media Player, and download games and other software.

The multimedia capabilities of this device — including a large color screen, rich polyphonic speaker, and up to 1 gigabyte of expandable memory via memory cards — put it head-and-shoulders above the competition. This is truly the device that bridges the worlds of work and play. And with its great design, it’s simply a stunning phone.

PressPass: How significant is this for the wireless industry?

Christensen : For the wireless industry, the first North American availability of Windows Mobile-based Smartphones opens up a tremendous new market opportunity to connect a new set of customers to each other and to their most important information through a powerful and familiar software experience.

The opportunity for our mobile-operator industry partners is particularly interesting. Windows Mobile-based Smartphones have been successfully received and are available throughout Europe, Asia and Australia, with 15 leading mobile operators shipping the devices. The opportunity for AT & T Wireless, for example, is highly significant. Research we’ve commissioned shows that Windows Mobile-based devices increase average revenue per unit for mobile operators by as much as 25 percent.

PressPass: What about developers?

Christensen : The introduction of the Windows Mobile-based Smartphone to North America represents an impressive new market for independent software developers, given its introduction on the AT & T Wireless network, with its immense customer base. There are more than 380,000 professional Windows Mobile developers who create applications that can light up these devices with applications and services. These developers represent a tremendous pool of creativity and brainpower. Today there are already more than 11,000 applications available for Windows Mobile-based devices, many of which can now be used on the Motorola MPx200.

PressPass: Tell me about Microsoft’s relationship with Motorola.

Christensen : In September, we announced an alliance with Motorola, under which they would build and deliver a series of Windows Mobile-based Pocket PCs and Smartphones. The Motorola MPx200 is the first available product resulting from this alliance. This work with Motorola represents a significant milestone for our business in bringing compelling offerings to mobile professionals and enterprises.

Of course, we’re delighted with this close relationship with a leader in handset manufacturing. Motorola is making a significant investment in providing their customers with devices based on Windows Mobile. It’s a great way for them to support their millions of customers who already use Microsoft Outlook and who want to extend their Outlook experience to their mobile devices.

It’s always been our belief that the software platform we provide is just a piece of the total value proposition that when this is combined with both Motorola’s leading hardware and the full range of services from AT & T Wireless, the full value proposition is delivered to the customer.

PressPass: You’re very excited about these announcements.

Christensen : In this arena, Microsoft’s vision the vision I joined the company to help implement was to use mobile devices to connect our customers to information and each other in new ways through the power of software. Key to this effort was launching software for a new kind of phone that was small and sleek; that can handle e-mail and applications as seamlessly as it handles voice; and that extends the Outlook experience to wherever users wish to take it. Over the past year, we’ve turned this vision into reality around the world. Now, we’re bringing the benefits of these products and this new market opportunity home to North America. Yes, it is very exciting.