Microsoft and Qualcomm Ink Smart-Phone Pact

Updated: The two companies will work to integrate Qualcomm's wireless chip sets with Windows Mobile in the name of pushing larger numbers of smart phones onto the market.

Microsoft and Qualcomm have announced a new partnership through which they plan to integrate respective wireless technologies in the name of accelerating smart-phone development.

The two market leaders said in a news release on May 4 that they will specifically work on porting Microsofts Windows Mobile operating system onto Qualcomms Convergence Platform MSM (Mobile Station Modem) wireless chip sets.

The companies contend that their efforts will allow device manufacturers to speed the introduction of cheaper, more powerful smart phones that support a variety of multimedia applications while offering improved battery life compared with todays high-end devices.

Smart phones are mobile handsets that feature more PC-like features than todays popular devices, and Microsoft is betting that Windows Mobile can become a de facto operating system for such products based on its ability to tie into the companys dominant Windows desktop and server operating system products.

According to analysts at Gartner, in Stamford, Conn., sales of smart phones running on Windows Mobile should reach 64.5 million by 2009.

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The partners said they plan to integrate Windows Mobile with Qualcomms dual-core Convergence Platform MSM chips in the name of eliminating some of the custom development work typically performed by device makers in working with the two individual technologies.

The companies plan to introduce support for Windows Mobile in the Convergence Platform MSM products sometime during the second half of 2006.

"If you look at what a device maker does today to bring all the components in a smart phone together, there definitely are some roadblocks and hurdles that we can help them overcome," said John Stockweather, group product manager for Microsofts Mobile and Embedded Devices Division, in Redmond, Wash.

"As the industry has evolved from only several vendors supplying most of the parts in a handset to today where manufacturers are sourcing thousands of items from all over the world, anything that we can do to help them speed development and pass savings on to consumers benefits the entire market," Stockweather said.

Among the features the companies said the partnership will help phone manufacturers get their hands around are support for CDMA2000 (Code Division Multiple Access 2000), 1XEvDO (Evolution Data Optimized) and UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications Systems) wireless modems, as well as the ability to build in multimegapixel cameras, advanced 3-D graphics and global positioning tools.

Microsoft said it will also include a new Board Support Package and Radio Interface Layer for Qualcomms Convergence Platform chip sets in future versions of Windows Mobile. Phones with the Windows Mobile versions of the chip sets onboard should arrive by 2007, the companies said.

"Having support for Windows Mobile on MSM chip sets will bring a familiar software experience to the next generation of smaller, lighter phones," Dr. Sanjay K. Jha, president of San Diego-based Qualcomm CDMA Technologies, said in a statement. "Our customers will be able to more quickly design cost-effective and innovative devices that harness the power of our Convergence Platform dual-processor solutions."

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Earlier the week of May 1, Qualcomm raised its third-quarter earnings estimates based largely on better-than-expected sales of its wireless chip sets, including the MSM products. The company said it now anticipates pro forma revenues for its fiscal third quarter to be at or slightly above the high end of prior guidance, which was approximately $1.77 to $1.87 billion.

Qualcomm said the improved outlook is being driven by the shipment of approximately 53 million to 56 million MSM chips during the quarter, compared with approximately 36 million in the year-ago quarter and approximately 49 million in the second quarter of 2006. The firm previously anticipated shipments of approximately 50 million to 53 million MSM chips for its third quarter.

Editors Note: This story was updated to include quotes from Microsoft and Qualcomm.

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