Microsoft Wins Asian Allies for Smartphones Push

Asia's fast-growing mobile phone makers are embracing Microsoft Corp's new software for sophisticated handsets, boosting the U.S. company's efforts to expand beyond its hegemony in the computer industry. The entry of Taiwan's electronics makers into the market for "smartphones," which offer sophisticated email, Internet and music and video functions, promises the software giant further support in its battle against UK-based rival Symbian and PalmSource Inc of the United States. The three companies' operating systems are scrambling for a bigger slice of a market that Microsoft estimates could account for two out of every five phones sold in 2005.

"Taiwan companies could give impetus to Microsoft, paving the way for such smart devices to become a mainstream product in the future," said Alex Wu, a mobile phone analyst at Taiwan's KGI Securities. Co-operating with Taiwan's contract electronics manufacturers "is one of Microsoft's strategies and it is a right decision," he said. Smartphones, which typically pack PDA (personal digital assistant) functions into a phone or incorporate phone electronics in a PDA, currently have just a three percent share of the mobile phone market, according to IDC. The research firm expects sales of around 13 million of the devices this year. Symbian has about a two-thirds share of the smartphones market, in large part thanks to the number of phone makers who have invested in the company. Its major shareholders are phone giant Nokia and British software firm Psion Plc .

News source: Reuters

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