Openwave Systems Inc has laid down the gauntlet to its mobile web browser rivals by signing a deal with Microsoft Corp’s MSN content business.
The company said the deal could only have been brokered because of its influence with handset vendors and mobile operators. However, the company faces renewed competition from chief rival Access Co Ltd, which said its latest phone software would win out over both Openwave’s and Opera Software ASA’s alternatives.
The deal, announced at the 3GSM World Congress in Cannes, France, sees Microsoft’s MSN Mobile software, including MSN Messenger and MSN Hotmail applications, built into Openwave’s Phone Suite V7 software alongside its own web browser and messaging clients. The aim is to make it possible for mobile operators to offer MSN services to users of the mid-range, non-smart phone devices where Phone Suite is targeted.
While the availability of MSN services in Phone Suite is no guarantee that mobile operators will choose to offer them to subscribers, Microsoft’s faith in Openwave appears considerable.
Microsoft saw us as a way to get to the mass [handset] market and a way to offer something richer than Java or [Qualcomm’s] BREW offer but less rich than a smart phone, said Brian Dally, director of product marketing with Openwave’s device software products group.
To date, Microsoft’s ambitions in the mobile content market have been limited to high-end handsets and wireless PDAs running its various Windows Mobile variations. Dally expects Openwave Phone Suite V7 to ship on between 5 million and 10 million handsets this year before ramping up considerably in 2005, no doubt assisted by new V7 licensee Motorola.
In total, some 50 million handsets ship each quarter running some version of Openwave’s software, making it the dominant phone software vendor outside of Nokia, and highly influential with mobile operators, to which it also supplies considerable volumes of infrastructure software.
For its part, MSN subscribers totaled some 8.6 million worldwide in September 2003, presenting a very sizable opportunity to mobile operators.
Openwave’s MSN announcement was countered by chief rival Access Co Ltd, which revealed a new iteration of its own phoneware known as NetFront Mobile Client Suite (MCS) as well as a potentially lucrative deal with Hewlett-Packard to resell Access’s Premium Content Subscription Server billing product as part of the HP mobile service delivery platform (MSDP) offering.
Tokyo, Japan-based Access said its NetFront MCS redefines what operators and handset manufacturers can expect from phoneware and in its publicity material sent to ComputerWire, said it will compete (and win) against Openwave’s Phone Suite V7 and Opera’s Platform.
NetFront MCS appears to represent a very complete set of phone software – including web browser, multimedia messaging, personal information management, SyncML-based synchronization, Java, a SMIL compliant media player and a customizable user interface component, all compliant with the latest relevant standards.
This article is based on material originally published by ComputerWire