Apple finally acknowledges iPhone's Exchange support

Summary:Last June, my sources said that Apple licensed Microsoft's ActiveSync protocol, enabling the iPhone to users connect to Exchange Server and make use of its wireless messaging and synchronization capabilities. But it took until today, March 5, for Apple -- and Microsoft -- to acknowledge this licensing arrangement.

In June 2007, my sources said that Apple had licensed Microsoft's ActiveSync protocol, enabling the iPhone to users connect to Exchange Server and make use of its wireless messaging and synchronization capabilities. But it took until today, March 5, for Apple -- and Microsoft -- to acknowledge this licensing arrangement.

A Microsoft spokeswoman just sent me this note via e-mail:

"Today, Microsoft will be on hand at Apple headquarters as Apple announces it has licensed Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync for the iPhone. The agreement means iPhones will have built-in mobile access to Microsoft Exchange Server, letting users send and receive wireless email, manage their calendars, and view and edit tasks and contacts virtually anytime, anywhere."

Apple has been pushing to make the iPhone as appealing to business users as consumers. The ActiveSync licensing deal is one step toward realization of this goal.

Apple said today that they will build ActiveSync support right into the iPhone. What this brings users, as Microsoft explains on its Web site:

"Exchange ActiveSync enables a mobile phone to synchronize email, calendars, tasks, and contacts with Exchange Server over the air."

Microsoft makes the ActiveSync protocol available to interested parties via a pre-established licensing agreement. From Microsoft’s Web site:

“Microsoft offers a commercially reasonable, nonexclusive license so that other companies can use the Exchange ActiveSync Protocol in their own products. Microsoft will license its trade secrets and necessary patent claims for implementation of the protocol specification.

“Microsoft offers a license for this mobile device synchronization protocol for Exchange Server 2003 and 2007 with documentation. The Exchange ActiveSync Protocol license is for a five-year term and based on annual projected sales volumes."

While standard ActiveSync licensing costs vendors $100,000 or first-year’s royalties, whichever is higher, with a per unit royalty thereafter, the rates are negotiable, Microsoft has said.

A number of phone vendors, including Nokia, Palm, Motorola and Sony Ericsson, already offer devices that sync with Exchange using ActiveSync. Now Apple officially can be added to that list.

Does Apple's support for ActiveSync make the iPhone more appealing to you?

Topics: Enterprise Software, Apple, Collaboration, iPhone, Microsoft, Mobility, Software

About

Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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