Ballmer: Microsoft wants a piece of your phone –

Speaking at a cellular industry conference in Las Vegas Tuesday morning, Steve Ballmer, Microsoft Corp.'s president and chief executive officer, was expected to announce partnerships that highlight the software maker's ambitions to provide software used in a coming wave of data-enabled mobile phones.

The Microsoft CEO spoke at the start of CTIA (Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association) Wireless 2001, an industry conference that attracts mobile operators, handset makers and, increasingly, the computing industry. Other speakers this week will include the chief executives of Intel Corp., Dell Computer Corp. and Yahoo Inc., a list that highlights the expected convergence of telecommunications and IT.

Ballmer was expected to announce a partnership with High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC), the Taiwanese company that designs and manufactures Compaq Computer Corp.'s iPaq, and a broadening of its relationship with Mitsubishi Wireless Communications Inc. Both companies have agreed to use Microsoft software in future mobile phones, Microsoft said in a statement.

The Redmond, Washington software giant is just one of the companies trying to secure a place for its software in what is expected to be a huge market for so-called smart phones, or mobile phones that can double as personal organizers, send and receive e-mail and do basic Web surfing. Other contenders include Sun Microsystems Inc., Palm Inc. and Symbian Ltd.

Ballmer was expected to say that HTC has agreed to use Stinger -- the codename for Microsoft's software platform for smart phones -- in handsets that HTC plans to release later this year, Microsoft said. HTC doesn't sell to end users, but delivers phones through mobile operators and other handset suppliers.

Ballmer was also expected to say in his speech that Mitsubishi will use Microsoft's Mobile Internet Explorer, a sort of mini Web browser, in two of its phones being designed for GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) networks in the U.S. The phones, the Trium G520 and GT550, are due in the first quarter of 2002, Microsoft said.

Mitsubishi is already a partner of Microsoft, offering a Pocket PC handheld computer in Europe dubbed the Mondo Trium, which mixes voice and data functions. The company has also said it will ship smart phones based on Stinger in Europe later this year.

Boosting its efforts to attract enterprise customers to the Pocket PC, Ballmer may also highlight a deal in which J.D. Edwards & Co. will make Pocket PC the exclusive PDA platform it supports for information systems based on OneWorld, its ERP (enterprise resource planning) package, Microsoft said.

Finally, the software maker said Ballmer would highlight a new partnership between MSN (Microsoft Network) and Motorola Inc. to build an MSN Mobile messaging device, intended to give users an "affordable and easy" way to access the Internet wirelessly, Microsoft said in the statement.

The CTIA conference will attract more than 700 exhibitors and about 30,000 attendees from 80 countries, according to show organizers. More information is on the Web at

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