Microsofts History

By Matt Hines  |  Posted 2005-12-15 Print this article Print

On the topic of Microsoft, the executive said that Visto felt compelled to get its claims filed before Windows Mobile 5.0 officially arrived on the market. He said that every company in the space needs to be sure that such a large player isnt allowed to take advantage of potential patent loopholes.

"[Microsoft] has a history of walking into markets and ignoring the people who have been there for a while, and were going to make sure that the innovations that weve created are protected," Méndez said.

Microsoft representatives declined to comment on the impact of Vistos lawsuit. While the wireless e-mail portion of Windows Mobile 5.0 has yet to be released to customers, the technology is already supported by a number of wireless devices made by the software giants partners.

To read more about Microsofts plans for Windows Mobile 5.0, click here. Industry analysts said that Visto, along with Seven Networks and Nokia, could be poised to win more carrier deals, but pointed out that mobile e-mail is still a nascent market. If Visto is able to prove itself in the European sector through Vodafone, experts said, the firm could have as good a chance as any to grow its distribution and clout.

Some industry watchers said that the RIM-NTP patent spat can only help to boost the prospects of the BlackBerrys rivals as carriers look for alternatives and wait to see what becomes of the lawsuit. Many wireless carriers are also interested in keeping their own brands on new data services, rather than giving more business to RIM.

Click here to read more about the battle between RIM and NTP. "The wireless e-mail market is in the early stages overall, and RIM has jumped out ahead, but its still a fairly untapped marketplace," said Gene Signorini, analyst with Boston-based Yankee Group. "In the U.S., theres probably only 10 percent penetration of the addressable market, so theres a significant amount of opportunity left and the carriers have really just begun evaluating how they can brand and sell these wireless data solutions for themselves."

In terms of slowing down Microsofts bid to aggressively enter the wireless data space through Windows Mobile 5.0, the experts were more skeptical. But, beyond its actual legal chances, said Signorini, the company is showing that it ready to fight larger rivals attempting to move into its market. The lawsuit could also stand to benefit other industry players trying to compete with Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft if it does delay Windows Mobile, he said.

Stephen Drake, analyst with Framingham, Mass.-based IDC, declined to analyze the technological aspects of the patent dispute between Visto and Microsoft, but said that the smaller firm could attempt to use evidence successfully entered in its legal battles with Seven to try and stop Redmonds mobile e-mail plans, just as NTP is menacing BlackBerry.

"The suit has the potential to slow Microsoft down as weve seen with NTP-RIM, at least in terms of Microsoft being forced to pay attention to it," said Drake. "Its hard to say that if it goes through it could keep Microsoft out of the market, but it makes Visto look like theyre standing up to the big bully, and putting their technology on the line and saying theyve been doing it for a while."

Drake said that carriers are likely to look at the companys work with Vodafone more than any litigation, in terms of judging its long-term viability, and the analyst pointed out that the deal has yet to result in a related services launch. Looking forward, he said that Visto will have a chance to prove itself with other carriers, and that the current wave of publicity cant hurt its prospects.

"Visto is in the mix, mobile e-mail is something everyone talks about, and theres a lot of buzz, but still in the early stages of this marketplace," he said. "Theres no bad publicity for them here with all the news; a lot more people are paying attention to them all of a sudden, and theres certainly something to be said for that."

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