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Monday, February 14, 2005

Microsoft Changing The Rules Of The Game in CES -All Set To Conquer

We had been covering Microsoft's commendable advances in the consumer electronics sector.After a prolonged stance of fighting, stumbling and for brief appearing directionless and vulnerable, Nokia has now decided to embrace and license Microsoft's ActiveSync and WMA rather than try to fight it. Microsoft has strategised brilliantly and are executing well and are are seen to be miles ahead in these areas. The WMA, standard is becoming the Lingua Franca that all non - apple players in the consumer electronics sector are veering towards for convergence in the consumer electronics sector.
Microsoft said they are working directly with Flextronics to start creating inexpensive smart phones.As key smartphone "manufacturers" use Flextronics as does Microsoft, is Microsoft getting ready to be a manufacturer is the question getting raised.The impact should be felt by the mobile and smartphone market. Microsoft can change the rules of the game by opening its cash chest to flood markets with economical but attractive features embedded mobile phones and all other players may have to follow. The key thing to watch could be how quickly Microsoft is able to rush things to the market - given the fact, Nokia is well geared to rollout a series of models this year.
Joe Wilcox writes, Microsoft rightly recognizes that despite Apple's early lead, the digital music market is still fairly new. Excerpts with edits and comments: Microsoft-Nokia agreement, where the phone maker would support Windows Media DRM 10 and Media Transport Protocol, is an important momentum win for the software giant. Microsoft and its music player partners haven't done all that well against Apple's iTunes/iPod. So Microsoft is taking a broader, long-term approach of ubiquity--and that's a strategy no one should underestimate. Digital downloads and subscription services account for just a fraction of overall U.S. music spending Ubiquity plays to Microsoft's strength (the huge Windows market) and Apple's weakness (protected content largely confined to iPod). Right now, MP3 is the consumer format of choice But going forward, as consumers buy more "protected" music content and look to have the same ubiqitious access available with MP3, non-compatible DRM formats will create problems Choice--in this case access to WMA DRM content from just about any device--is a good approach.
The report "Integrated Handsets: Balancing Device Functionality with Consumer Desires," says,about a quarter of U.S. consumers would be interested in listening to music on their portable device. Music is one of those.Nokia isn't just supporting WMA DRM 10 but also MTP, which is Microsoft's supposedly easy device-to-PC synchronization protocol. The direction in which the technology is pushing indicate Cell phone as a viable music player.
1) Apple is putting big marketing muscle behind iPod Shuffle, which capacity is 512MB or 1GB. If, with a mini SD card, the cell phone has the same capacity and interface limitations of iPod Shuffle, the mobile could become a reasonable alternative-particularly if the consumer already owns the device?
2) Nokia plans on releasing a big bunch of cell phones this year. The emphasis is on lifestyle, which could resonate very well with music.
3) The high-volume mobile refresh rate appears to be much higher than many other products consumers regularly use. The situation creates opportunity for rapid release of new features - assuming they don’t sack telephony and meet common contextual scenarios -into a market with great reach. Given cell phone popularity, Microsoft would want its technologies there.

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Sadagopan's Weblog on Emerging Technologies, Trends,Thoughts, Ideas & Cyberworld
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