March 20, 2001, 11:53 AM — 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
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,
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.