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Microsoft, Nokia will bring Office apps to cellphones

By Matthew Shaer / August 12, 2009



More than a few office workers would be happy if they never saw a spreadsheet again. Try telling that to Nokia, which today announced it would soon make it possible for you to access Microsoft Excel any time of the day – and without the hassle of signing onto your work machine. Here's the deal: sometime in the not-too-distant future, Nokia and Microsoft will begin producing a range of Office applications to cellphones across the States.

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According to Nokia, these applications will be available for a "broad range of Nokia smartphones starting with the company’s business-optimized range, Nokia Eseries." The apps will be sold to businesses but also to national carriers and individual consumers. The cost of these "solutions," as Nokia oh-so-corporately calls them, has not yet been released – nor has the date when they will become available. Nokia has only said the collaboration will begin "immediately."

“With more than 200 million smartphone customers globally, Nokia is the world’s largest smartphone manufacturer and a natural partner for us,” Microsoft Business Division President Stephen Elop said in a statement. “Today’s announcement will enable us to expand Microsoft Office Mobile to Nokia smartphone owners worldwide and allow them to collaborate on Office documents from anywhere, as part of our strategy to provide the best productivity experience across the PC, phone and browser.”

Critical reception

The response to the partnership on the blogosphere has been mixed. Over at GigaOm, Stacey Higginbotham says "as partners go, Microsoft is an uninspired choice. The two firms already compete to put their two different operating systems on mobile phones — Microsoft has the increasingly less relevant Windows Mobile while Nokia is backing Symbian. And Microsoft’s Office software for mobiles is unlikely to give the BlackBerry a run for its money. After all, the email experience on a Windows Mobile phone isn’t terrible, but it’s not great, either."

But Seeking Alpha's Erick Schonfeld sees a few upsides to the whole deal. The partnership, he says, "positions Microsoft and Nokia in an unholy alliance against the encroachments of the more modern iPhone and Android smart phones. It allows Microsoft to deeply integrate its mobile apps into Nokia phones in a way that might make them more appealing to corporate customers."

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