Microsoft gets mobile UC onto Nokia phones

The pair have launched a mobile unified communications feature aimed at squaring off with BlackBerrys in the enterprise space.

The first fruit of Microsoft and Nokia's mobile alliance was unveiled today with the launch of a mobile unified communications (UC) app for Nokia phones.

The software, called Microsoft Communicator Mobile for Nokia, is aimed at toppling the enterprise dominance of Research in Motion's (RIM) BlackBerry Messenger instant messaging app.

The new offering is the result of the partnership between the two companies, first announced last August, to make Microsoft Office available on the Finnish phone giant's devices.

In an August 2009 BusinessWeek report, Robert Andersson, Nokia's executive vice president for devices, said on the alliance: "This is about giving companies like RIM, or specifically RIM, a run for their money."

Similar to the BlackBerry, Microsoft Communicator Mobile will show contacts' online presence, allowing users to IM, e-mail, text or call colleagues. It can also pull up contact lists from company directories.

A 2008 Ferris report estimated that Microsoft Exchange Server owned 65 percent of the global server messaging market. A Forrester Research analyst told ZDNet Asia last October that a projected 81 percent of U.K. and U.S. enterprises ran Microsoft Outlook.

With Outlook reliant on Microsoft Exchange on the backend, this figure is indicative of the software vendor's dominance of the office desktop collaboration market and potentially, the proportion of organizations more ready to plug into the Microsoft Communicator Mobile app.

Microsoft over the past few years has been establishing partnerships aimed at winning the UC market, including the launch its UC products in Malaysia in 2007 through an alliance with Nortel and Hewlett-Packard.

IDC noted in a study in May 2009 that enterprise UC adoption had moved into the mainstream in the Asia-Pacific region, and that some 40 percent of organizations had implemented telecommuting policies due to the availability of UC tools.

Only two Nokia handset models--the E72 and E52--currently support the new Microsoft app, but Nokia said it intends to pre-install the feature into future smartphones models. Communicator Mobile is available for download on Nokia's Ovi Store.