RealTime IT News

Windows Mobile to Power 2010 Census

The U.S. government plans to arm 500,000 census workers with smartphones based on Microsoft’s Windows Mobile 5.0, a spokesperson for the software giant confirmed to internetnews.com.

While Microsoft wouldn’t comment on how much its portion of a larger five-year $600 million Field Data Collection Automation contract to update the census taking process is worth, the news will likely boost the software giant’s rise in the smartphone market.

The Census Bureau contract is Microsoft’s largest order to date. The software will power smart-phones made by Taiwan’s HTC Corporation, which also manufactured Windows Mobile-based Palm Treos and HP iPaqs phones.

Microsoft expects revenue from its mobile division to nearly triple to $1 billion within three years, up from $337 million in 2005, according to the New York Times.

The contract reinforces recent studies indicating Microsoft could lead a growing smart-phone market. By 2010, Microsoft’s Windows Mobile operating system will lead Linux, RIM and Symbian, as previously reported.

In related news, RIM today announced an agreement with Yahoo providing many of the Internet portal’s features for users of the Blackberry e-mail device.

Florida’s Harris Corporation, which in 2002, helped the Census Bureau upgrade address and mapping databases, will serve as systems integrator to upgrade data collection by over 500,000 census workers reporting to 500 regional offices.

Along with Microsoft, Accenture, Dell, Oracle, Sprint and HTC Corp will transform the census process from 20th century paper interview forms and pencils to smartphones capable of directly entering data that is then transmitted in real-time to government computer centers.

“We’re going to build the world’s largest mobile deployment,” Greg Jenko, partner in Accenture’s Mobility Practice, told internetnews.com. Accenture was responsible for picking Windows Mobile.

RIM, SymbianOS and Linux were dismissed early on as possible choices, said Jenko, who said the contract is a confirmation Windows Mobile is a large-scale application.

In February, research firm The Diffusion Group (TDG) reported Microsoft has increased its mobile phone software market share. Although the Redmond, WA-based software giant was third Microsoft's portion of the market rose from 12.6 percent in 2004 to 17 percent by the end of 2005.

Additionally, Windows Mobile is expected by 2010 to take the lead with an estimated 29 percent, followed by Linux with 26 percent and Symbian – the current leader – third with 22 percent, according to TDG.

Microsoft has also helped its standing by improvements to its mobile software. “The early version was pretty ugly,” Rob Enderle, principal analyst with the Enderle Group, told internetnews.com. Enderle added he thinks the census bureau contract will help Microsoft close the gap between Windows Mobile and RIM.

Windows Mobile has evolved in parallel with the Windows operating system, said Jenko. He said another version of Windows Mobile will be released before the government contract ends.

“It’'s mind-boggling the amount of paper” involved in the census process, according to Jenko. “We’re talking about eliminating grocery store-sized warehouses of paper.”

Research firm In-Stat expects this year smart-phones to become 15 percent of the cell phone market. As previously reported, In-Stat found the smartphone market had grown more than 70 percent in 2005.

In January, Cingular introduced its 2125 smartphone using Windows Mobile 5.0.