Microsoft’s Chief Executive Steve Ballmer said Tuesday the world’s largest software maker plans to significantly ramp up its presence in the mobile telecommunications sector over 2006. The U.S. company already provides the operating system for smart phones – handsets that have computer-like functionality. But it also hopes to beef up its presence by providing an increasing array of applications – including e-mail and mobile television – and by linking the devices to its server programs.
“Powerful devices meet powerful networks in small forms,” Ballmer said at the 3GSM mobile telecommunications conference in Barcelona.
Microsoft launched its operating system three years ago with the SPV business device. Since then, it has signed up 102 mobile operators in 56 countries to offer devices running on its operating system and has over 47 manufacturers building handsets around its system.
Ballmer said with customers beginning to demand similar functionality on a handset to their computer, Microsoft’s sales team is geared up to aggressively push mobile devices in the business market in 2006, alongside a new version of its Outlook e-mail program and its Office business package.
“This year, we’re really ramping up our capability,” Ballmer said.
At 3GSM, Microsoft has announced deals to directly link its server technology with the push e-mail system used in Windows Mobile-based phones. Separately, it jointly announced a deal with BT Group and Virgin Mobile to offer digital broadcast mobile television – a first for Europe.
“We are trying to provide a complete end-to-end solution,” Ballmer said, pointing to Microsoft’s strength in enterprise applications, servers and its mobile operating system.
He said customers don’t separate personal and professional lifestyles and want one device where they can control all their requirements.
Microsoft showcased handsets which unify both business and personal contacts, while controlling when and where people can contact the user.
Ballmer said that despite offering an end-to-end service, the company is “going to embrace interoperability.”
Microsoft will work with mobile operators offering a variety of ways to access its applications and server technology, meaning operators don’t have to take the Windows Mobile operating system to offer applications like Outlook e-mail.
“It’s a very strong interoperability story which will allow us to work with you in a variety of different ways,” Ballmer told delegates at the conference.