New Delhi: The local arm of Microsoft Corp. announced the India launch of Windows Mobile 6, its operating system for smart phones, on Thursday and a senior executive said the company was in discussions with several Indian firms (or enterprise customers) that wished to deploy the operating system.
India had a mobile (telephony) subscriber base in excess of 170 million on 30 June. This number is set to increase to 500 million by 2010, according to the department of telecommunications. And according to research firm IDC, 3.06 million smart phones were sold in India last year. A smart phone is one that can access email and perform basic computing tasks such as reading a spreadsheet.
“India is the fastest growing market for us in the Asia-Pacific (Apac) region. It is ahead of the curve in some sectors such as banking and finance, and pharmaceuticals and is a key driver of growth for us,” said Olivier Ribet, director (mobile solutions, sales and marketing in Apac and Greater China), Microsoft.
He added that large deals in the operating system space would be a sale of more than 1,500 units. “Around 35% of such large deals came from Asia and over 32% of these users are those who have migrated from a BlackBerry to a Windows Mobile system.”
“Large corporations in India across sectors are approaching us and are currently in the process of experimenting and trying out the operating system. However, we cannot divulge names as the process is ongoing,” said Sumeet Gugnani, business group lead (mobility and embedded devices), Microsoft India.
Although the operating system runs on phones, companies can integrate it with their existing mail software and other applications to allow their employees to access mail and other company applications on the go.
The software competes with Canadian firm Research In Motion Ltd’s (RIM) BlackBerry software (and devices). In the case of BlackBerry, companies buy the device from RIM or its partner telcos and run the software on their servers. In the case of Windows Mobile, the devices are bought from individual phone companies.
Unlike BlackBerry, Windows Mobile is not device-specific. That means the software runs on a range of handsets made by several companies. It also means that the company has to partner with more phone makers, according to Diptarup Chakraborti, an analyst at research firm Gartner Group’s Mumbai office. “Consumers generally don’t buy PDAs based on the operating system, but rather go for the brand of the phone, be it a Samsung or a Nokia. The more phone brands Microsoft partners with, the more it will impact their sales,” he adds.