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February 12, 2007

Microsoft announces PlayReady mobile DRM technology

Posted by David Hunter at 1:07 PM ET.

Today, Microsoft solidified their credentials as a Digital Rights Management provider for downloadable media with the announcement at 3GSM07 of Microsoft PlayReady for mobile devices which they claim is a “Breakthrough Technology Enabling Simple Access to Broad Set of Digital Content, Including Music, Games, Video, Ring Tones and Pictures”:

Today at 3GSM World Congress 2007, Microsoft Corp. announced Microsoft PlayReady™ technology, a new multimedia content access technology optimized to meet the needs of mobile operators and handset manufacturers for digital entertainment and commerce. Supporting multiple content types, and flexible rights, Microsoft PlayReady enables operators to provide a range of new services tailored toward growing consumer interest in mobile digital media. Leading mobile operators worldwide, including Telefónica, O2, Verizon Wireless, Bouygues Telecom, and Cingular Wireless, now the new AT&T, are today indicating plans to implement Microsoft PlayReady technology.

The result of extended dialogue with the mobile industry, Microsoft PlayReady technology enables a broad spectrum of business models such as subscription, rental, pay-per-view, preview and super-distribution, which can be applied to many digital content types and a wide range of audio and video formats. Content types supported include music, video, games, ring tones and images. Audio/video formats supported include Windows Media Audio (WMA), AAC/AAC+/HE-AAC, Windows Media Video (WMV), and H.264. Microsoft PlayReady enhancements make it easier for consumers to move their content between their devices, giving them a new level of freedom with their digital content. This technology will be available in the first half of 2007 for handset and device implementation.

Wireless delivery of content to handsets continues to grow rapidly, underscoring the need for compatibility and interoperability. To address this requirement, Microsoft PlayReady has been designed to be fully backward compatible with Windows Media DRM 10, allowing devices that support Microsoft PlayReady to access content using Windows Media DRM. Microsoft will also provide an interoperability program so content may flow to qualifying DRM and content protection technologies.

I guess Microsoft isn’t joining Steve Jobs’ “no DRM” bandwagon any time soon, but that’s no surprise and in fact, the “interoperability program” mentioned in the press release seems to play up to the European governments that have Jobs so vexed.

Also interesting, but still forthcoming, will be the details on whether PlayReady actually plays nicely with the old Microsoft PlaysForSure DRM specification (based on Windows Media DRM 10) which some current mobile phones support, not to mention the new and incompatible Zune DRM (aka “Microsoft’s future“) which presumably will be on the rumored Zune Phone.

Filed under 3GSM07, AT&T, Argo, Cingular, Conferences, Coopetition, DRM, Digital Media, Media Player, Microsoft, PlayReady, PlaysForSure, Portable Media Center, Technologies, Verizon, Windows Mobile, Windows Mobile 6, Zune

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November 13, 2006

Cingular, Samsung launch Blackjack "smart device" with Windows Mobile

Posted by David Hunter at 4:13 PM ET.

If your phone has everything but the kitchen sink, I guess you call it a smart device:

Cingular Wireless, Samsung Telecommunications America (Samsung) and Microsoft Corp. today unveiled the BlackJack™*, a robust, slim smart device packed with the power and functionality desired by business customers and consumers alike. With the BlackJack™ customers can get rich entertainment features, powerful business applications, and the familiar look and feel of Windows Mobile® 5.0, turbo-charged by Cingular’s 3G-enabled BroadbandConnect service on the sleekest design on the market.

The stylish and compact BlackJack™ will be available exclusively from Cingular in the U.S. in mid-November for as low as $199.99 (with a two-year activation and unlimited data plan). This ultra-thin 3G device features a full, integrated QWERTY keyboard with a large, high-resolution QVGA color screen.

There’s a full list of all the features by following the link, but I liked Ed Hardy’s summary at Brighthand better:

Cingular offers other WM Smartphones, but this is the first that can access its HSDPA network.

The carrier is emphasizing this device’s multimedia capabilities. Users will have access to Cingular Music, a music subscription service, and Cingular Video its on-demand streaming video service. Video can be played on this model’s QVGA screen

But the BlackJack will be about more than just entertainment. It’s built-in QWERTY keyboard will allow users to more easily type emails, and this smartphone will include Microsoft’s push email system.

In addition to its 3G capabilities, the BlackJack will be a GSM phone with support for the 2.5G standard EDGE. It will also include Bluetooth 2.0, which will allow it to use stereo headsets .

This model is an updated version of the Samsung i320, which debuted in Europe over the summer. The major change is the inclusion of HSDPA support.

He also mentions a $100 mail-in rebate.

Update: Related – Symbian forecasts the death of the PC:

The PC will be on its last legs within five years, if executives from the mobile platform company Symbian are to be believed.

Giving the keynote speech at the Symbian Smartphone Show in London, chief executive Nigel Clifford told delegates that the era of the smartphone was dawning, representing a shift “as profound as the Internet and PC were in the 1990s”.

“Desktops PCs are effectively a flatlining commodity,” Clifford said on Tuesday, while conceding that laptops were eliciting “perhaps a bit more” excitement.

Since I’m a “heavy metal” guy who doesn’t like to type with his thumbs, I hope this means big bargains in store.

Filed under Cingular, Coopetition, Microsoft, Samsung, Windows Mobile

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February 12, 2006

Microsoft and phone partners ready for 3GSM World Congress

Posted by David Hunter at 9:13 PM ET.

The 3GSM World Congress, billed as the world’s “premier mobile event,” is kicking off tomorrow in Barcelona and the press releases are flying. For Microsoft, phones from Windows Mobile partners, back-end messaging software, and software for service providers are what’s hot:

Microsoft Announces Global Partner Support for its Mobile Messaging Solutions

Feb. 13, 2006 — Today at 3GSM World Congress 2006, Microsoft Corp. and its mobile operator and device-maker partners announced a broad range of services and Windows Mobile®-based devices for business customers to cost-effectively deploy mobile messaging solutions. Leveraging the integration between Direct Push technology in Microsoft Windows Mobile 5.0 and Microsoft® Exchange Server 2003 Service Pack 2 (SP2), businesses can mobilize their employees on a unified infrastructure without the requirement to pay for additional and costly e-mail servers. This same technology is now available for Microsoft Windows® Small Business Server and is also offered as a hosted service by a number of mobile operators around the world.

Note the inclusion of Small Business Server. That’s not a real surprise since it includes Exchange, but the service stream is different.

Cingular Wireless, Orange, T-Mobile and Vodafone today announced free upgrades to the Messaging and Security Feature Pack (MSFP) for all their Windows Mobile 5.0 customers, enabling Direct Push functionality and providing enhanced device management and security for messaging applications. Palm Inc. and i-Mate also reaffirmed their commitment to free MSFP upgrades. In addition, new Windows Mobile-based devices were unveiled today, all of which will ship with Direct Push technology: the HP iPAQ hw6900 Mobile Messenger, the Gigabyte Communications g-Smart (offered by Chunghwa Telecom Co. Ltd. in Taiwan), the ASUS P305 3G-enabled smartphone, and the Fujitsu Siemens FS Pocket Loox. In addition, HTC Corp. has unveiled a new product portfolio of Windows Mobile-based devices that are Direct Push-enabled and will be made available globally to T-Mobile and other operators beginning in the second quarter of this year.

Direct Push technology added to Windows Mobile 5.0 gives customers faster access to all of their Microsoft Office Outlook® information; just like prior versions of Windows Mobile, it communicates directly with Microsoft Exchange Server and Windows Small Business Server without the need for additional and costly e-mail servers and middleware. When combined with a library of over 18,000 specialty applications, Windows Mobile phones — now offered by 47 device-makers and 100 mobile operators in 55 countries — are the premier choice for business customers.

There is a “hardware” press release touting the Texas Instruments hardware platform for Windows Mobile phones, but the back-end seems to get most of the ink with a press release for Vodafone that tells their Windows Mobile push email story, and another for T-Mobile describing how they will also be using the Microsoft Solution for Hosted Messaging and Collaboration to provided hosted email packages for small and medium businesses. Hosting will be provided by IS Interned Services who will jointly market it with T-Mobile.

Finally, for service provisioning there’s Microsoft Builds Momentum in Service Delivery Arena

Microsoft Corp. today announced that its service delivery solution, Microsoft® Connected Services Framework, has been adopted by more than a dozen of the world’s leading communications companies, including Bell Canada, BT Retail and Celcom Malaysia. In addition, France Telecom is currently trialing this solution. Introduced in February 2005, Connected Services Framework is a software product that allows operators to aggregate, provision and manage converged communications services for their subscribers, regardless of network or device.

The Connected Services Framework is a cross industry Microsoft offering for a variety of network operators. We last it mentioned here in relation to the broadcast industry.

Filed under 3GSM06, Cingular, Conferences, Connected Services Framework, Coopetition, Exchange, HP, Hosted Messaging, SBS, Servers, Service Providers, T-Mobile, Vodafone, Windows Mobile

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