• United States

Germany’s T-Mobile delays Microsoft phone launch

May 16, 20033 mins

DÜSSELDORF, GERMANY – Microsoft will have to wait — possibly until the end of the year — before seeing its Windows Powered Smartphone software available on handsets in Germany, Europe’s largest mobile phone market.

T-Mobile Deutschland, the mobile subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom, has decided to delay the commercial launch of phones using Microsoft’s Smartphone operating system due to service quality issues, Rene Bresgen, a spokesman at the German mobile operator, said Friday.

“We have some fine-tuning issues that have to resolved before we can introduce phones with Smartphone technology,” he said. “We have very high quality standards.”

The problem, according to Bresgen, is not Smartphone technology as such, but rather the interplay between the software, hardware and mobile network. “All three of these components must work together without a glitch before we can introduce a new product to customers,” he said. “Our tests so far have shown that this is not the case.”

Smartphone software, which like the Pocket PC is based on Microsoft’s Windows CE 3.0 operating system, includes a Web browser, e-mail and instant messaging clients, an address book and a media player. The software is designed for handheld devices with a compact display and a telephone-style keypad, rather than the larger, touch-sensitive displays used in Pocket PCs

Asked why other operators, such as France’s Orange SA, has been able to introduce Smartphone technology, Bresgen said “some things are the same in networks, some things aren’t.” Operators, he said, use different suppliers, different technologies and different services to differentiate themselves.

“A certain level of customization, especially for a product like Smartphone, is almost always required,” Bresgen said. “And we’re still in that process.”

The German mobile operator, which had initially planned to offer Smartphone-enabled phones by August, now expects to make them available by the end of the year, Bresgen said.

Orange Personal Communications Services in London, the first mobile operator in Europe to launch Microsoft’s Smartphone technology, has attracted nearly 70,000 customers to purchase its SPV phone since its launch in November, according to Orange spokesman Stuart Jackson.

“The phone works extremely well, and customers have embraced it,” he said.

One of the big advantages of the Microsoft technology, according to Jackson, is that users can continuously and easily update their phones by downloading new features, releases and patches.

In January, Orange was alerted to a bug in the SPV phone, which Microsoft has meanwhile fixed with a downloadable patch.

Last week, Microsoft struck a deal to make its Smartphone technology available in Portugal.