Microsoft apps set Symbian's sights on the enterprise

Nokia is hoping to encourage wider enterprise adoption of its Symbian Belle-based smartphones through the introduction of native Microsoft productivity apps, such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint
Written by Ben Woods, Contributor

Nokia handsets running the new Symbian Belle operating system will run Microsoft business productivity apps, including Microsoft OneNote, PowerPoint Broadcast, Lync 2010 and Microsoft Document Connection.

Nokia 700

Nokia handsets running Symbian Belle (such as the Nokia 700, above) will soon run Microsoft productivity apps. Photo credit: Nokia

Nokia announced the extended capabilities on Thursday and said that the first phase of apps will be available to download "before the end of the year".

The announcement follows two updates in quick succession to the Symbian operating system, which have been aimed at consumers. However, the introduction of native Microsoft productivity apps, with more promised for 2012, marks a shift towards addressing the needs of the enterprise.

"Today's launch is all about providing companies that already use Microsoft infrastructure with better tools than ever to deploy or mobilise their workforce," Ilari Nurmi, vice president of product marketing at Nokia, told ZDNet UK. "We believe that Nokia smartphones, with Microsoft software in them, have the broadest and the best support for the enterprise."

The new apps build on Symbian's existing business apps, such as ActiveSync support and Microsoft Communicator Mobile. OneNote syncs with Microsoft SkyDrive, meaning that people can always work on the most recent version of a document — whether on a mobile or at the desktop — through the cloud. However, the OneNote Symbian app will not support audio recording, a Nokia spokesman confirmed.

PowerPoint Broadcast allows users to watch presentations on the move. A person can listen in on a PowerPoint presentation using the handset to dial in to the meeting and using the screen to keep track of the slides on screen. The Microsoft Lync 2010 IM and videoconferencing application will also be available on the Symbian Belle platform and will work between desktop and mobile clients.

Rounding off the list of tools is Microsoft Document Connection, which gives users access to documents stored locally on the device, via email or Microsoft SharePoint.

Apps rollout

The Microsoft apps will be available to download for free onto Symbian Belle-based handsets. They will also be available on Anna-based handsets that are due to get the upgrade to Belle, such as the N8 or E7, when they arrive later in 2011.

The second stage will follow next year with native Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps.

A spokesman told ZDNet UK that the apps came about as the result of a pre-existing agreement between Nokia and Microsoft and was not a part of the deal between the two companies to use Windows Phone as its "primary platform", announced in February.

"If you look at the corporate customer footprint, the big corporate as well as the smaller SME space, we obviously have a very large global footprint on that particular front," Nurmi said. "If you look just within Europe, and not even other parts of the world, we're probably the number-one major player in this particular space. "

Nurmi also confirmed that Symbian owners will have to wait until next year for another update to the platform, but could not give any more specifics. The update Symbian Belle was announced on 23 August, less than six months after the announcement of its predecessor, Anna.

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