Execs: Compelling apps key to mobile devices

While Microsoft Corp. sees tremendous opportunity in the wireless mobile space, the key to success will be forthcoming compelling applications and services, said Derek Brown, director of global communications for Microsoft’s mobile devices division, in a keynote at the Pocket PC Summit in Philadelphia.

Brown also stressed that although the infrastructure side of wireless carrier networks is in place, uptake among corporate users has been slow.

“Today, the infrastructure is built but no one is using it, no one is signing up,” Brown said. “You’ve got to have compelling apps and services. You’ve got to have rich devices that can support these [applications and services], and [you need] an entire ecosystem to support this,” he added.

When asked what the killer application will be, Brown commented that there will not be one single application that drives the use of wireless handhelds.

“There’s not a killer app, there are thousands of developers writing thousands of applications that fit individual needs,” he said.

Microsoft is committing a huge investment, trying to build and increase this mobile ecosystem, Brown said. Microsoft’s Pocket PC was launched two years ago in a market dominated by Palm OS, but in which Microsoft is making inroads, especially in the enterprise market where security is an issue. The company this spring announced deals with three of the largest wireless carriers in the United States to sell handsets running Microsoft’s Pocket PC 2002 Phone Edition operating system. And the Smartphone 2002 is currently in trials in the United States and looking to launch “in the not too distant future.”

“Our focus is on these rich devices,” Brown said. “But we’ve got to have the whole thing together. We can’t just drop these devices on the market without the carriers being involved and without great apps being available.”

In order to encourage developers of mobile applications, Microsoft last month announced the Mobile2Market program, which gives developers an avenue for selling their applications to carrier’s subscribers.

“Developers are key to the platform’s success,” Brown said. “You can’t just take a PDA and put a phone on top of it. Deep software integration is key.”