Microsoft ups the ante in smartphone war

December 02, 2014 13:40
Windows Phones will help drive productivity both at work and at home with new applications, says Microsoft's Mark Trundle.

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT.US) is combining enterprise and personal applications in its Windows Phones to make the devices more useful for a broad spectrum of consumers and help the firm compete better with rivals such as BlackBerry and Apple Inc.

"We are driving productivity for both work and personal use," said Mark Trundle, Microsoft's general manager for Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

He noted that "the line between work and personal lives is becoming blurred" on electronic devices as everything is getting more digitalized.

Microsoft Office files including Word, Excel and PowerPoint are available for editing on Windows Phones and synchronizing it to the OneDrive - a free storage cloud platform.

Windows Phones also support dual SIM; hence, users can use a single device while keeping work and personal call records and data usage separate.

"Microsoft has a large share of enterprise space, consistent across personal computers, tablets and phones," Trundle told EJ Insight in an interview.

Streaming boom

Mobile penetration (including smartphones as well as ordinary feature phones) in Hong Kong was at 236.2 percent as of July this year, among the highest in the world, meaning that each person carries more than two phones on average, according to government data.

Meanwhile, smartphone penetration in the city was at 87 percent, the same level as it was in Singapore, market research firm Nielson said in early January.

At the consumer-end, video streaming looks promising in the city. Video streaming applications, including those from TVB and HKTV, are already available on the Windows phone platform.

Hong Kong Television Network (HKTV), which launched commercial operations on Nov. 19, had an average of 563,000 daily viewers in its first week of broadcast, local media reports said.

On average, 358,000 people watched HKTV's live programs each day through a television unit, set-top box or a computer, while another 205,000 viewed the programs through the on-demand channel, according to Ming Pao Daily.

Other video streaming applications available on Windows Phones include True Color MediaCenter which provides hundreds of thousands of movies, drama and entertainment programs; and MiiiTV, which offers hot video channels and TV Dramas from Taiwan, Japan, Korea and mainland China.

According to Hong Kong government data, the number of mobile users capable of gaining access to mobile data services stood at 12.7 million in July.

More than half (53%) of Hong Kong consumers viewed video on a mobile device over the past month, compared to 38 percent of Singaporeans and 37 percent of Malaysians, Nielson said in January.

"We are seeing huge growth in video streaming, so we're working closely with a lot of major local developers to make sure we have … those key applications to be able to tap into that growth," Trundle said.

Globally, there are 320,000 applications available on Windows Phone platform, Microsoft said in September. This compares with 1.2 million applications on Apple's iOS platform as of early June, and 1.3 million in the Android marketplace as of July.

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Ayishah Ma is a financial reporter on Greater China issues.