REDMOND, Wash., Feb. 14, 2006 — At this week’s 3GSM Conference 2006 in Barcelona, Spain, Microsoft will have a high profile as top company executives deliver keynote speeches and members of the Mobile and Embedded Devices Division meet with mobile operators from around the world to discuss new technologies and explore new markets. The goal is to call attention to Microsoft’s success in partnering with the mobile industry to grow the market for mobile data services and to build relationships for future partnerships.
PressPass spoke with Suzan DelBene, corporate vice president of marketing for the Mobile and Embedded Devices Division at Microsoft, to learn how Microsoft is helping to shape the future of the wireless industry by providing flexible offerings that encourage partner innovation and drive development of profitable solutions.
PressPass: What are the important points that Microsoft is seeking to put across with its presence at this year’s 3GSM?
Suzan DelBene, Corporate Vice President of Marketing, Microsoft Mobile and Embedded Devices Division
Suzan DelBene: There are three big themes that we are communicating to those attending this year’s conference. First is about innovation and how we are working with our partners to enable innovation that can equate to more choices and greater opportunity for mobile operators and their customers. Second is that those opportunities are everywhere. We’re really encouraging mobile operators to bring new opportunities to market. They can work with us to provide more customers choice and increase revenue for their companies. Third is about partnership. Especially in the mobile space, our first goal is always to work with partners. We are, of course, involved in our own research and product development, but ultimately it’s our partnerships that drive innovation, opportunity and choice. It all ties together.
PressPass: It wasn’t very long ago that Microsoft entered the mobile space. What kind of progress are you seeing?
DelBene: Three years ago we had one device in one market in Europe. Now, just three years later, we’re partners with 102 mobile operators in 55 countries. And we’re working with 47 device makers who are creating innovative hardware designs that run our mobile software. This remarkable growth has come because of what we’ve been able to do with the platform: enable a whole new level of creativity, differentiation and access that allows mobile operators to provide their customers with the unique experiences they want.
It can be something as simple as seeing the Start button on your mobile device and recognizing that it’s the same as on your desktop PC; you have that similar user experience. And we have so much inherent in the platform – Microsoft Windows Media Player Mobile, Office Mobile with Word, Excel and PowerPoint, and so on. And now devices running on the Windows Mobile platform will be shipping with Windows Mobile Direct Push Technology.
PressPass: How does Direct Push Technology work?
DelBene: This is an area where we’re seeing amazing momentum. You can now stay connected while on the go and get e-mail directly from your Microsoft Exchange Server as it arrives. We’ve always had a direct connection to Exchange for synching to the most important data that people want – e-mail, contacts and calendar. But you no longer have to schedule synchronization. With this new wave of devices, you can now have that information delivered to your device automatically.
One of the announcements we’re making at 3GSM is that many major mobile operators are releasing upgrades for existing devices that run on Windows Mobile 5.0 to include this Direct Push technology. That upgrade is formally known as Messaging and Security Feature Pack (MSFP). Also, device makers are now announcing devices coming to market with MSFP integrated right out of the box. I’m thinking of HP with the iPAQ hw6900 being offered by Vodaphone Germany and T-Mobile Netherlands and the Fulitsu Siemens FS Pocket Loox. When we announced MSFP back in June, we said that Direct Push Technology would be coming in devices in the first half of 2006. It’s happening. And over the coming months, you’re going to see more and more rollouts of these devices.
PressPass: What is the opportunity for enterprise customers in this?
DelBene: Microsoft is lowering cost barriers for business enterprise customers to mobilize their workforce. Enterprises are eager to deploy mobile devices because of the increased productivity they generate due to anywhere/anytime access to corporate information and processes. But they need to do it in a completely secure way. MSFP provides both the level of security and the management features that enterprises are demanding. For instance, you can remotely wipe the device of information in the case of loss or theft. You can set strong passwords. And the IT professional can do these settings back in the office and maintain that level of control. Enterprises can weave these mobile devices into the infrastructure the same way that they deploy and manage a server, a terminal, a laptop or a traditional PC. And because Direct Push Technology integrates easily with Windows Mobile, you don’t need e-mail middleware. You’re able to deploy mobile devices in the enterprise more efficiently and at a lower cost.
PressPass: What’s the impact on consumers?
DelBene: At 3GSM, we have announced some really exciting things that we’re doing in the consumer realm. The kinds of experiences Microsoft is delivering empower people to take their digital entertainment anywhere, anytime and on any device. The Windows Mobile experience is familiar, easy to use and integrates Windows Media — just like your PC. The Windows Media team announced yesterday that we have just licensed our technology to Motorola, and they’ll have Windows Media Player on a broad set handsets coming out later this year. Nokia and other partners previously licensed this technology. This means mobile connections to a vast range of compelling audio and video content. Windows Media Player Mobile even allows you to connect back to your Media Center Edition PC or to access media files that you have on your desktop.
It’s exciting to see other companies expanding the number of compelling mobile solutions they offer. Bouygues Telecom, a French mobile operator, has an incredible deployment of MSN Instant Messenger on their iMode service. In the first three months, they signed up 45,000 subscribers. Their customers said they also wanted access to HotMail on their handsets. So last week we announced a partnership with Bouygues that will allow them to deploy Hotmail on their mobile devices as part of the iMode service. This is a tremendous growth opportunity; there are 4.5 million Hotmail users in France.
What’s really interesting about this is that here’s a mobile operator who recognizes the opportunity to reach a huge group of consumers who are already routinely communicating with Instant Messenger and Hotmail on their PCs. Mobile operators are providing customers access to their friends and family when they’re on the go by putting these services right on the handset.
PressPass: It sounds like a much of what you’re talking about goes back to partnerships.
DelBene: To be really successful in this space, we need great industry partners. We need partners to create innovative hardware. We work with mobile operators to develop innovative services we can bring to market.
What Microsoft brings to the table is an integrated, end-to-end experience for customers and partners — from mobile devices to servers and services. Our technology enables new mobile work and lifestyle experiences that will dramatically expand partner opportunities.
And if a mobile operator doesn’t want to take the whole Windows Mobile package, we’re also enabling partners the choice to pick the pieces that work best for their solutions. Going back to the Bouygues example, they saw the value of Hotmail and Instant Messenger for their customers. They wanted to enable those services on a phone that isn’t a Windows Mobile phone. We worked with them to make that happen. And it’s a great success. They’re driving up revenue because customers are spending more hours using the service. And the service is helping them to attract many new customers.
PressPass: Then you see new markets opening up for mobile operators?
DelBene: Absolutely. A great example of this is how Microsoft is providing technology to Beijing Mobile. Beijing Mobile wanted to create a new kind of interactive communications service that they refer to it as a platform for “the next generation social activities.” It’s called Instant Messaging and Presence Services (IMPS) and it allows Beijing Mobile subscribers to interact with each other over any type of mobile and fixed network. They needed Microsoft infrastructure to make this happen. Five million subscribers currently use Beijing Mobile’s IMPS, transmitting more than 3 million text and voices messages each day. China has potentially the largest subscriber base in the world, and this is a new way for us to branch into important new markets.
And again, in this instance, the mobile operator is able to drive increased revenue. Worldwide, mobile operators can tap into all the customers who are already using Microsoft products. There were 6 million handsets that operate on the Windows Mobile platform sold last year – a great number – and we can help any mobile operator reach those customers. But beyond that, we have more than 200 million MSN Instant Messenger users. And there have been more than 300 million downloads of the Windows Media Player.
PressPass: Do you expect to continue gaining traction in the mobile space?
DelBene: Yes, we’re serious about this. We’re investing a lot in advertising. And we’re thinking about how to train our enterprise sales force to push these kinds of solutions into big business as well. We can help mobile operators reach more Microsoft customers than they can on their own.
What it all comes down to is choice. We think it’s very, very important that the mobile industry, particularly mobile operators, enable choice for their customers. And at Microsoft we’re excited because we can help to provide that choice. Whether an operator wants to use Windows Mobile handsets or they want to put our services on their handsets or they want to leverage our infrastructure: each of these scenarios opens the door for innovation and opportunity and provides customers choice.
Customers are demanding more, and people have higher expectations for their mobile devices. They want them to perform the same functions as their PC or laptop. Microsoft is uniquely positioned because we offer it all. We can help to provide access to all kinds of rich media and to many kinds of messaging services. We want to work with partners to enable unlimited choice for customers.
We’re going to continue to create compelling mobile services in an end-to-end scenario and offer it directly to customers. But we’re committed to enabling choice for mobile operators so they get added value from Microsoft and, in turn, can provide choice to their customers.