Microsoft Corp, the world's largest software maker, said sales of its software for mobile devices are expected to increase when the Chinese Government issues licences for high-speed wireless networks.
The government may award permits for third-generation cell-phone services, which allow video-conferencing and faster song downloads, as early as February, according to China Netcom Group Corp (Hong Kong) Ltd Chief Executive Officer Zuo Xunsheng.
China may need to spend 205 billion yuan (US$26 billion) to introduce high-speed networks, China Mobile Communications Association said.
"The returns will have to come from increased revenue and most of that will come from data services, which we can help with," Pieter Knook, a senior vice-president, said in a November 30 telephone interview from Redmond, Washington, where the company is based. Knook heads the mobile and embedded devices division, which includes software for smartphones that act as e-mail devices and day planners and allow users to listen to music.
He declined to provide sales growth targets.
Microsoft, whose Windows system runs almost 95 percent of the world's personal computers, vies with Symbian Ltd for a bigger share of the market for smartphones that FTN Midwest analyst Ben Bollin forecast may expand ninefold to 52 million users by 2010.
Companies need to increase sales from China because it is the world's biggest mobile-phone market and growth there is helping offset slowing demand in the United States and Europe.
China adds about 5 million mobile-phone users a month and had 449 million at the end of October, more than the combined populations of the United States and Japan.
London-based Symbian, partly owned by Nokia Oyj, introduced in July a new version of its software that reduces the time to customize handsets for phone companies. Microsoft's Windows Mobile enables phones to link to the Internet, run word-processing programmes, read e-mail and play music.
Knook expects operators including China Mobile Ltd and China Unicom Ltd, the country's mobile-phone duopoly, to sell more handsets with Windows Mobile when 3G licenses are awarded. Microsoft said China Mobile will start selling a cell phone made by Taiwan's Dopod International Corp in December that offers Pushmail, an e-mail service using Windows Mobile.
Microsoft forecasts the China Mobile deal would be a "big mover," Scott Horn, general manager for mobile and embedded devices, said in an interview from Hong Kong yesterday, without giving details. "Around the region, we're seeing phenomenal growth."
Such advanced devices from mobile-phone makers may break the dominance of Research in Motion Ltd's BlackBerry. Motorola Inc began selling the Q e-mail phone in June, after the introduction of the E61 by Nokia, the world's biggest handset maker.
"The telecom operators represent the kind of distribution channel for us that we traditionally have with the PC makers like HP, Dell," Knook said.
(China Daily December 5, 2006)