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May 5, 2010
3 Min Read
Microsoft and Nokia Wednesday launched Microsoft Communicator Mobile for Nokia devices, the first application resulting from their alliance around mobile productivity.
The unified communications client connects directly with a company's communications systems for mobile collaboration. The launch is viewed as a strategic move to regain momentum against smartphone leaders Research in Motion, maker of BlackBerry devices, Apple Inc.'s iPhone, and handsets built on Google's Android platform. Users of the Symbian-based Nokia E72 and E52 smartphones can download the English version from Nokia's Ovi Store. "Our alliance with Nokia aims to bring the Office productivity experience to the millions of people using Nokia smartphones around the world," said Kirt Debique, general manager at Microsoft. "With the arrival of Communicator Mobile for Nokia today, we have a great start to fulfilling our joint vision." Communicator Mobile joins the Windows Phone 7 series, Microsoft's next smartphone OS, which is based on the unreleased Windows 7 CE core and will be released in the fourth quarter. With Communicator Mobile, users will be able to view colleagues' availability, and click to communicate with them either with IM, email, text or phone call. The names and status of colleagues are embedded directly into the devices' contacts application, enabling users to update their own presence, start and join instant messaging sessions, and begin calls directly from the contact card. "This application really provides a much more efficient way to work with others as you can see if someone is busy or available, and the best way to start a conversation with them," said Ukko Lappalainen, vice president at Nokia. "It also meets all of the requirements for enterprise: cost effective to implement, secure, familiar and reliable." The launch is the first product from the alliance, which was announced last August. Since then, the two companies have been collaborating on design and development of communications solutions. Communicator Mobile targets enterprises, and one of the benefits that will allow it to compete with the Blackberry Messenger is its ability to log IM conversations, said Chris Hazelton, research director, Mobile and Wireless, at The 451 Group, in Boston. “Essentially, this is another step where IM is replacing SMS," he said, which is especially appealing for companies in regulated industries that need to track communication. However, an inhibitor to adoption is that users have to install Communicator Mobile themselves right now -- even though it's a simple process, Hazelton added. “Companies have to advertise this to their users and get them to download it. You don't want to have to have IT manually install software." Another downside has to do with usability and the user experience. Unlike applications that appear on the home screen upon being downloaded to an iPhone, “when you download an app on a Nokia Symbian device it may be several layers down into the menu" and “it's a very onerous process" to move applications to the device's home screen. Apple, Hazelton noted, “treats all apps equally and the user can decide what's on the home screen. The companies plan to deliver Communicator Mobile for Nokia pre-installed on other Nokia smartphones in the future as well as support additional devices, including the recently announced Nokia E5.
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