Microsoft slams iPhone as irrelevant

Microsoft slams iPhone as 'irrelevant'

Apple's soon-to-be-launched iPhone will be irrelevant to business users because it is a "closed device" and does not support Microsoft Office, a senior executive with the software giant said this week.

"It's a great music phone, and I'm sure it will be fantastic and have an interesting user interface," Microsoft's Asia-Pacific head of smartphone strategy Chris Sorenson told press during a recent visit to Australia.

"However, it's a closed device that you cannot install applications on, and there's no support for Office documents. If you're an enterprise and want to roll out line of business applications, it's just not an option. Even using it as a heavy messaging device will be a challenge," the executive added.

One hundred and forty phone models already run Microsoft's Windows Mobile operating system, while Apple's new device is not expected to hit the US market until June, and Australia in 2008. The Windows mobile devices have picked up a significant portion of the converged device market, although they are up against the dominance of Nokia and its Symbian OS, Research in Motion and its BlackBerry OS, and decreasingly, Palm.

While the entry of the iPhone (with its cut-down version of Mac OS X) into this market offers new options for consumers, Sorenson believes user familiarity with the Windows Mobile interface -- and the ease with which companies can buy and develop applications for the platform -- will sustain its increasing popularity and help keep the iPhone out of the lucrative corporate market.

Windows Mobile was released in May 2005, but it wasn't until early 2006 that devices based on the operating system had become widely available to Australian buyers. By contrast, devices running the latest version 6 of Windows Mobile (WM6) will be on the Australian market before the end of the month -- beating Microsoft's own projections that the platform would ship in the third calendar quarter.

While the iPhone will focus on integrating phone, Internet browsing and iPod features, WM6 adds enterprise-targeted features such as better synchronisation of data between mobile devices and office servers.

"The market in Australia is demanding the newest and greatest mobile technology."

"With 3G we see Australians wanting more bandwidth on devices than ever before. There's a growing trend towards smarter devices, and with WM6 we've tried to bring more of what you can do on a PC, onto the devices. Manufacturers can innovate heavily in their designs, but keep that consistent [Windows] look and feel," Sorenson said.

When contacted, an Apple Australia spokesperson said: "I am not interested in commenting".

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