Nokia yesterday announced a partnership with Microsoft to deliver music and email to users of its mobile phones, but ruled out the possibility of building Microsoft's operating system software into its products.
Software supporting Microsoft Exchange Server's ActiveSync protocol for synchronising email, calendar and contact information will be a feature of future Nokia phones, thanks to a deal announced by the two companies at the 3GSM World Congress in Cannes on Monday.
"Part of becoming more IT aware [as a company] is an appreciation for de facto standards, and ActiveSync is the de facto standard," said Nokia executive vice president of enterprise solutions Mary McDowell, defending the company's decision to bow to Microsoft's might, rather than use its market leadership to push the software giant into supporting open synchronisation protocols.
Support for ActiveSync will allow future phones based on Nokia's Series 60 and Series 80 smartphone software to synchronise information with Exchange servers over the air. Nokia will continue to support the Open Mobile Alliance (OMA) Data Synchronisation Protocol and its own Nokia PC Suite software, which enable synchronisation between a phone and a local PC.
However, Nokia's collaboration with Microsoft will only go so far. "There are no discussions to develop a Pocket PC phone," said Anssi Vanjoki, executive vice president and general manager of Nokia's multimedia business unit, speaking at a news conference in Cannes.
Microsoft and Nokia announced another collaboration on Monday, working with online music store Loudeye to deliver music to mobile phones.
Nokia will work with Loudeye to build a "white label" music store that mobile network operators can rebrand to sell music to their customers. Nokia chose Loudeye because of its extensive music catalog, said Vanjoki.
Future music-oriented handsets from Nokia will play Windows Media Audio files, and include Windows Digital Rights Management to prevent unauthorised copying of music. "On the internet, music is a phenomenon that's accessed, stored and managed on PCs," and Microsoft was the right partner to work with in that market, he said.
The companies will also work to develop a plug-in for Windows Media Player to handle music files in AAC (Advanced Audio Coding) format and OMA Digital Rights management.
"Customers will be able to enjoy their music on their Nokia phone or PC, download it on either platform, and transfer it between the two," said Amir Majidimehr, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Windows Digital Media Division.
The 3GSM World Congress, at the Palais des Congrès in Cannes, runs through Thursday.