Microsoft, Ericsson Form Cell Phone Marketing Pact

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Microsoft Corporation, Redmond, WA and Telefon AB L.M. Ericsson, Stockholm, Sweden announced last week their strategic global marketing alliance which the companies say will result in the availability of expanded wireless e-mail and other Web communications services over cell phones next year. But how the two companies plan to market their technologies is unclear.

Mary Brinkley, a Microsoft spokeswoman, said it was "too early to comment

on any direct marketing/advertising efforts." But clearly, Microsoft plans to allocate big money in the booming market, which is already capturing the attention of consumers in Europe. Devices such as handsets capable of receiving and transmitting e-mail are already becoming available in Germany, France and Italy.

However, the American market is still lagging behind in its availability of wireless technologies. Specific services are being planned for U.S. customers by Microsoft but are not expected to become fully available until the third quarter of next year.

The agreement includes licensing of the Windows CE, which will be used by Ericsson in the development of applications that will work in conjunction with mobile cell phones which can be synchronized with desktop PC software programs.

In a published report, Steve Ballmer, president of Microsoft said "I think wireless e-mail will spur the mobile-phone market in the U.S." Ballmer said that "the mobile Internet could act as a catalyst and that the U.S. mobile-phone market "needs a new application to accelerate."

Ericsson predicts there will be over 450 million mobile

Internet subscribers worldwide within three years - the majority of which expected to by European.

Although the Microsoft and Ericsson is alliance is expected to create a domino effect in the industry, spurring increased demand and competition for browser-capable cell phones, their marketing agreement is not exclusive. Microsoft says it will reserve the right to negotiate alliances with other wireless companies. And Ericsson will be free to create services with other partners as well.

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