Leading mobile phone maker Nokia said Wednesday it would bring Microsoft's Windows Live suite of Web services, like e-mail and instant messaging, to many of its cell phones.
Microsoft, Yahoo and Google are competing for valuable real estate on a handset's main screen, so users can gain access to their online services without the extra step of going through the phone's Web browser.
Microsoft's services will integrate with Nokia's existing programs allowing users to sync their Windows Live contacts list with the phone's address book or send and receive Hotmail e-mails within Nokia's messaging application.
Owners of Nokia's multimedia phones will be able to download a suite of Windows Live services that include e-mail, instant messenger, contacts list and a blogging and picture sharing site.
The Finnish phone maker plans to preload cheaper models with Microsoft's suite of services next year.
"In practice it would be as wide as possible," Nokia's Jari Pasanen, vice president for strategy and technology at multimedia business unit, told Reuters.
The service will be available for users of five Nokia multimedia phones, including N95 and N73, in 11 European and Middle Eastern countries including Britain, Germany, France, the Netherlands, the Nordics and Saudi Arabia.
The two companies said the service would be initially free, but they may charge a monthly fee for it later. Microsoft and Nokia would not disclose how they planned to share revenue from the agreement, but said sales of advertising for the services would not be shared.
Web Shifts to Mobile
Nokia, the world's largest mobile phone maker with a 38% global market share, also has a deal with Yahoo to feature the company's Yahoo Go software, a suite of services for download that includes e-mail, search and an address book.
Handset makers, faced with falling prices of cellphones, are looking for new sources of revenue by striking deals with content and service providers who want to be featured on Nokia phones.
Meanwhile, Microsoft and its Web rivals are targeting the 3 billion mobile phone users as the next -- and, possibly, more lucrative -- frontier for online advertising. The huge profits have yet to roll in.
"There is a ton of stuff going on, but ... you just can't simply extend the advertising platforms as they exist today to the phone," said Steve Berkowitz, the head of Microsoft's online services group.
Nokia and Microsoft, fierce competitors because they make rival operating systems for handsets, signed their first co-operation agreement in 2005 to put the Windows Media player on to Nokia phones.
Earlier this month, Nokia said it would start to use Microsoft's copy protection technology in its software platforms to boost the wireless use of music and videos.
"There has been talk that Nokia and Microsoft would be in some kind of war," Nokia's Pasanen said. "That is not the case."