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Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Matt Day.

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January 24, 2008 at 1:14 PM

Cellphone directory bill passes out of house committee

Third-party cellphone directories that don’t have permission to list a subscriber’s phone number are one step closer to being illegal thanks to a bill being proposed by Washington’s House of Representatives.

Last week, the House’s Committee on Technology, Energy and Communications, heard testimony on Bill 2479, proposed by Rep. Dawn Morrell, D-Puyallup.

Morrell is attempting to update a bill passed earlier that made it illegal for cellphone companies to create a wireless phone directory without permission from individuals. In new language she is now proposing, it would preclude most any company — not just cellular operators — from creating a directory without permission.

Morrell proposed the bill after reading our story about how Bellevue-based Intelius was claiming to have millions of U.S. cellphone numbers for sale on its Web site. Since then, Intelius has filed for a $144 million initial public offering.

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January 24, 2008 at 12:39 PM

Wireless auction started this morning

The wireless auction that is selling off a swath of highly coveted airwaves started this morning with a flurry of activity — more than $2.4 billion in bids during the opening round. But this is not like a bankruptcy auction, where people show up on the steps of a building and raise their hands to place…

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January 23, 2008 at 5:14 PM

Notes from an interview with the new Windows Mobile exec

Microsoft said Tuesday that it has hired former Staples exec Todd Peters to head up its Mobile Communications Business as corporate vice president of marketing.

Today I had a few minutes to chat with him about his new role.

He will be responsible for marketing surrounding Windows Live and Windows Mobile, and for coming up with messaging that will highlight how the two are great not only for the enterprise, but for consumers, too.

He said that it’s not good enough to come up with a compelling advertising campaign — the products have to live up to the promise.

I think the most compelling branding strategy starts upstream. I think it’s critical in making the value proposition or promise true. Understanding the products and the services and the roadmap, and coupling that with the branding strategy, allows you to go to market with a seamless story.

To try to solve the problem with an advertising campaign is a short-lived approach. It’s not sustainable. Eventually the customer knows it’s not a deeply engrained belief. I really take a holistic approach to the challenge with tight alignment with branding and product strategy.

The big question is whether Peters will have the authority, or control, over the two groups to do it.

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January 22, 2008 at 10:23 AM

Consumer-focused exec hired at Windows Mobile

In an effort to make Windows Mobile phones a household name, Microsoft said today that it has hired Todd Peters, formerly of Staples, as corporate vice president of marketing for its Mobile Communications Business.

He replaces Suzan DelBene, who left the company suddenly a few months ago.

The company said Peters will be responsible for marketing efforts for Windows Mobile; Windows Live for mobile; and other mobility offerings related to product planning, product management and campaigns, and marketing communications.

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The position is pretty high-profile. Currently, Windows Mobile phones are available from 160 mobile operators in 55 countries; there are 49 Windows Mobile device makers, and they expect to sell 20 million licenses this fiscal year.

But Microsoft has been mostly successful in the enterprise, where the devices easily connect to an Exchange server, allowing people to stay connected to their e-mail, calendar and contacts. That has been a smart way to go since higher-end smartphones first were popular among business workers, but now that consumers have started to buy smartphones, too, Microsoft is playing catch-up. It hasn’t seen the kind of successes that Apple’s iPhone has in the consumer market.

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January 17, 2008 at 1:31 PM

i-mate encounters roadblocks in the U.S.

In October, Dubai-based i-mate, which has major offices in Redmond, made a big splashiat a annual wireless conference in San Francisco. The conference marked the launch of high-end Microsoft Windows phones called Ultimate in the U.S.

I wrote in a story that i-mate was offering four new models that cost between $600 and $700, ran on Windows Mobile 6, and had the latest cutting-edge hardware. Another cool feature was that it came with XGA, which allows the phone to connect to a plasma screen and show phone images on a full screen.

But just a few months later, the company has encountered a serious roadblock.

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January 17, 2008 at 10:57 AM

Free Windows Live services to Finnish kids

On a cross-country visit to the U.S., Finnish Prime Minister Matt Vanhanen dropped by Microsoft this morning to visit the Microsoft home of the future. Vanhanen was escorted through the mock-up home as a cellphone operated the home’s lights and RFID tags identified a bag a flour and a food processor on the counter. The visit also…

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January 15, 2008 at 2:32 PM

Clearwire’s partnership with Google

No, it’s not what you are thinking — today’s announcement is not about Google investing big bucks into Clearwire or lending it spectrum to build-out a nationwide wireless broadband network.

At least not yet.

Clearwire said today that Google will provide the back-end infrastructure for e-mail, chat and calendar to Clearwire’s customers. The change will take place over the next few months, but customers are unlikely to notice the change because they will still have access to their current Cleawire.net e-mail accounts, said

Clearwire spokeswoman Helen Chung.

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January 11, 2008 at 11:03 AM

T-Mobile is investing heavily until 2009

In today’s paper, we had a short item on how T-Mobile USA said it expects to spend billions rolling out new networks and services.

It said the spending spree could total about $10.3 billion over three years ending 2009, according to a Bloomberg story. Deutsche Telekom, T-Mobile USA’s parent, relies heavily on the unit for profits. It said investments in the unit will hurt profitability growth at the division in the next two years.

T-Mobile is the fourth-largest U.S. wireless company by subscribers, and it has fallen behind the others in rolling out speedier 3G networks, but the level investments obviously implies T-Mobile is ready to play catch-up.

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January 11, 2008 at 10:19 AM

Update on Microsoft’s purchase of Fast

When Microsoft announced it was buying Fast Search & Transfer for $1.2 billion on Tuesday, I asked in a blog post how the deal might affect Fast’s mobile search business. I got a partial answer today.

Microsoft clearly is buying Fast for its enterprise search service, but what about mobile? No executive had mentioned it in the press release.

Ayear ago Fast announced a partnership with Bellevue-based InfoSpace. Together, the two companies intended to develop a mobile search service to sell to wireless carriers. Then, in October, InfoSpace sold its mobile business to Motricity.

I wondered if the partnership with Fast transferred to Motricity and, if it did, what would happen to the mobile side of the business? Microsoft already has mobile search in its Windows Live stable. Would it continue to develop Fast’s work?

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January 10, 2008 at 2:55 PM

Intelius files to go public

Intelius, the company that provides online background checks and sells cellphone numbers to consumers, filed for an initial public offering today, according to documents filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission.

The Bellevue-based company said it hopes to raise up to $143.8 million in the offering. It would trade on the Nasdaq market under the symbol “INTL.”

Co-founder, CEO and President Naveen Jain previously founded InfoSpace, which at its height was worth more than Boeing. He was ultimately let go and paid a multi-million dollar settlement amid allegations of insider trading.

A Seattle Times investigation published in 2005 found that Jain, 48, and other InfoSpace executives appeared to have boosted the company’s stock value with accounting tricks and dubious deals in 2000. The investigation found they concealed revenue shortfalls and made “lazy Susan” deals in which company officials invested in other firms that, in turn, sent money back that InfoSpace could count as revenue.

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