Last year, Microsoft was a dominant force at 3GSM.
It rented out what seemed like the entire basement of a hotel across from the conference center to hold meetings and press conferences. Steve Ballmer even made an appearance by giving one of the longest keynote speeches of the week.
It was during that speech that Ballmer told the audience, on Valentine’s Day, that Microsoft was there to partner, not dominate the industry.
This year at 3GSM, it looks like Microsoft is still making a significant showing. Without actually being there this year, I can’t judge whether its presence is as large. Ballmer is not making any presentations, although several of the company’s mobile executives are.
On Monday, Microsoft officially unveiled the latest version of its mobile operating system. I wrote about it last week after getting a preview. The operating system is geared toward looking more similar to Windows Vista for the PC, and has some critical upgrades when it comes to the usability of the device. But the new version is far from a total remake.
On Monday, Microsoft announced PlayReady, a new digital rights management technology that goes beyond keeping track of music and video, but into all new forms of content available on phones today.
Leading mobile operators worldwide, including Telefónica, O2, Verizon Wireless, Bouygues Telecom, and Cingular Wireless (now AT&T), are indicating plans to implement Microsoft PlayReady technology. Most of these carriers already use Microsoft’s Windows Media 10.
With PlayReady, the carriers will be able to provide a range of new services, such as managing ringtones and images in all sorts of different business models.
PlayReady is expected to be available by June.
The new technology follows Microsoft’s announcement last year at CTIA, a U.S. mobile trade show, that it plans to more heavily in mobile DRM.
Now that Microsoft has unveiled both its DRM and Windows Mobile 6, what will it leave to talk about at the upcoming CTIA show in March? Pieter Knook, Microsoft’s senior vice president of Mobile and Embedded Devices, will appear at the Orlando, Fla., show along side Motorola CEO Ed Zander and AT&T COO Randall Stephenson in a presentation under the title of “broadband convergence.”