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RealTime IT News

Symbian Deals Smart With Microsoft

British mobile phone software maker Symbian has agreed to license synchronization software from longtime rival Microsoft in an attempt to increase its number of enterprise customers.

The London-based company said the agreement will allow users of smartphones that run on its operating system, an estimated 20 million devices, to wirelessly receive e-mail through network computers that run on Microsoft's Exchange Server software. ActiveSync will also let users access calendars, contacts and other personal-information tools.

"Symbian and Microsoft together are significantly expanding the number of customers who can directly access their corporate e-mail and other data from wireless devices," Dave Thompson, vice president of Microsoft's Exchange Server product group, said in a statement.

Although the move positions Redmond to make inroads into a European market that it has traditionally had trouble entering, the bigger picture for Microsoft may be the follow-through on its willingness to license its IP broadly, and especially to competitors.

Last week, as reported by internetnews.com, the European Commission admonished the software giant once again for not acting fast enough on compliance rulings that would enable other software providers to interoperate with computers that run the Windows operating system, as well as opening its server protocols to licensing.

Symbian said it will now make the Exchange Server ActiveSync protocol plug-in available to all its OS licensees.

Symbian forged a partnership last year with mobile phone giants Motorola, Nokia and Sony Ericsson; electronics powerhouse Matsushita Communications ; and Siemens in its effort to lead the smartphone race over Microsoft as the smartphone OS of choice.

"This will help all Symbian OS licensees meet the needs of the enterprise market," Marit Doving, a Symbian executive vice president, said in statement.

Smartphone technology provides rich media applications, such as e-mail and other newer forms of messaging, making the market ripe for business applications.

"Adoption of our technology by a provider like Symbian is a win for us in the mobile phone space," David Kaefer, director of Microsoft's IP licensing, said. "While deciding to license IP that has this type of significant value is a difficult decision, these are the decisions that companies must make all the time."

For its part, Nokia , which is the primary seller of Symbian-based smartphones, recently signed a deal with Microsoft to license ActiveSync for use in its enterprise devices.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"We can earn direct licensing revenue from licensing ActiveSync, and we also generate non-revenue value, as well, in the form of technological leadership, standardization of our technologies and overall relationship value," Kaefer said. "We are also very pleased that European technology companies like Symbian and Nokia are finding our IP licensing efforts as beneficial to their businesses."