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5/4/2006
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Microsoft, Qualcomm Team On Smart Phones

Qualcomm's technology already occupies a major position in smart phone technology, while Microsoft's operating systems lag way behind Symbian and Linux in the market.

Microsoft and Qualcomm announced Thursday that they will team up to port Microsoft's Windows Mobile operating system to Qualcomm's Mobile Station Modem (MSM) chipsets in a move to aggressively go after the next generation of smartphones.

Qualcomm's technology already occupies a major position in smartphone technology while Microsoft's operating systems lag way behind Symbian and Linux. According to recent numbers from market research firm IDC, Symbian has a market share of about 54 percent. Linux' share is about 23.5 percent, and Microsoft's is about 13 percent (counting Microsoft's Windows Mobile for Smartphone OS and Windows Mobile Phone Edition.) PalmOS was listed at a 3.5 percent market share.

In their announcement, Microsoft and Qualcomm said their collaboration will enable device manufacturers to shorten product development times. The firms predicted actual phones should be available in 2007.

"Our customers will be able to more quickly design cost-effective and innovative devices that harness the power of our Convergence Platform dual-processor solutions," said Sanjay K. Jha, president of Qualcomm CDMA Technologies, in a statement.

Joe Nordgaard, managing director of Spectral Advantage, said one important advantage of a joint Microsoft-Qualcomm effort on smartphones is the almost universal "familiarity factor" that business clients have with Microsoft's products.

"People are familiar with Microsoft's various software products on their PCs that they have at home and at work," he said, indicating that similar functions on a smartphone would likely be attractive to many consumers.

He added, however, that it' still too soon to see how the Microsoft operating system will perform on a handset given performance and form factor issues. "One thing is for sure -- it is a space Microsoft needs to win at and teaming with Qualcomm is certainly an important step in that process," he said.

Microsoft and Qualcomm said they already been integrating and testing support for the Microsoft OS with Qualcomm's Convergence Platform 7XXX-series MSM chipsets. Their efforts are centering on dual-core architecture with ARM11 applications processors and ARM9 modem processors.

The firms said their accelerated work will enable device makers to take advantage of the CDMA2000 1xEV-DO and UMTS modem features. Verizon Wireless and Sprint are using the former technology while Cingular Wireless and Sprint have focused their efforts on the latter solution.

Qualcomm said it plans to offer support for Windows Mobile 5.0 on Convergence Platform MSM chipsets in the second half of this year. A new Board Support Package and Radio Interface Layer for the platform will be offered in its Windows Mobile platform in the future, Microsoft noted.

The firms have had a long history of collaborating on wireless data communications.

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