Optus and Microsoft partner for Smartphone

Aiming to "unhinge people from their desktops", Optus Mobile and Microsoft today launched the first Windows-powered Smartphone which is being pitched at business customers.

The Qtek 7070 Smartphone device is built on the Microsoft Windows powered GSM Smartphone operating system and combines voice and text communication with wireless data capabilities.

Allen Lew, managing director of Optus Mobile, said he expects a large number of business customers to move to the Smartphone device, "and our pricing will attract our competitors' customers". The Qtek Smartphone will be available later this month priced at $99 on an Optus plan.

Lew admitted that Optus had seen "some" of its customers move across to the recently launched Hutchison 3G offering, but said most customers have eventually "come back to Optus".

Lew said the Smartphone provides personal information management software and easy synchronisation with e-mail systems.

He said the device, made by Taiwanese company HTC, combines the handset and a PDA into one device.

Described as Microsoft Australia's first major step into the mobile market, the company's managing director Steve Vamos said it is central to its .Net strategy.

The handset offers customers Microsoft Pocket Internet Explorer, Microsoft Pocket Outlook, MSN Messenger, voice recorder, PC synchronisation software, Microsoft Windows Media Player, and SMS.

Vamos said he expects to see more operators support this platform throughout Asia in the coming months.

He said Microsoft will also announce a 'Mobile to Market' program at the upcoming Australian Mobile Developers conference to help developers get Microsoft certification.

In addition to Internet Explorer the device is equipped with a high-resolution colour screen and the ability to play digital media and mobile games and as a result Optus is in talks with games providers to offer interactive games in the near future.

An Optus spokesman said the telco has partnered with Intel "which will be bringing out the CPUs for the Smartphone". He said the Smartphone can also provide Powerpoint presentations, eliminating the need for a PC or laptop.

To stimulate usage, Lew said Optus has repositioned its wireless Internet rates to accommodate higher-volume GPRS users.

"The new rates mean that an average 20Kbyte e-mail will cost an Optus customer just over half a cent per kilobyte - a 75 per cent decrease from our present rate," Lew said.

He said there will be up to $9.90 per month WAP capped plan for WAP usage; there will be no subscription with customers only paying per use.

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