Motorola and Microsoft have announced plans to co-operate on the development of mobile phones based on the Windows Mobile 2003 operating system. Mobile carriers in the US, Europe and Asia are due to start selling the devices next month.
Motorola is aiming the first of the so-called smart phones that would result from its new partnership with Microsoft directly at corporate applications involving mobile end users, the vice-president of Motorola’s mobile products group, Michael Tatelman, said.
AT&T Wireless Services has agreed to sell the MPx200 smart phone in the US, and London-based Orange would offer it to users in the UK, Tatelman said.
Other carriers in Europe and in Hong Kong also planned to make the phone available to subscribers, he said.
The announcement with Motorola ups the stakes in the battle between Microsoft and London-based Symbian for dominance in the mobile phone operating system market, an analyst at ARS, Sam Bhavnani, said.
Symbian is backed by a consortium of mobile phone makers, including Nokia, Psion and Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications.
Illustrating the competitive wrangling that's taking place, the deal between Microsoft and Motorola was disclosed just two weeks after Motorola, which helped found Symbian five years ago, abruptly backed out of the ownership consortium and sold its interest to Nokia and Psion.
Bhavnani called the Motorola deal a huge win for Microsoft and said the agreement helped legitimise Windows Mobile 2003, which was released in June.
But Symbian and Nokia remained the clear leaders in the worldwide mobile phone market, he said.
Gartner predicted Nokia would account for about 34 per cent of worldwide mobile phone shipments this year and that Motorola would be in second place, with a 14 per cent share.
Motorola will continue to sell phones based on Symbian's software, but Tatelman said the use of Windows Mobile 2003 would let the company develop "office-centric" phones for corporate users.
He said that the MPx200 device would let mobile workers synchronise phone-based email, calendar and contact databases with back-end Microsoft Office and Outlook systems.
The phone also includes 32MB of internal storage space and an optional 1GB Secure Digital card.