Nokia to put free Microsoft apps on Symbian Belle smartphones

Word, Excel and PowerPoint coming in 2012

Several of Microsoft's business productivity applications will be available for free on Nokia's latest Symbian Belle smartphones later this year, Nokia announced Thursday.

The move comes at the same time Nokia is building its first smartphone on the Windows "Mango" Phone platform. That phone could be released in November.

The free apps will run on Symbian Belle smartphones < href="http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9219456/Nokia_looks_to_attract_users_with_new_Symbian_phones">announced in August; they're designed to keep customers buying Nokia products while Nokia ramps up to Windows Phone smartphones.

The free apps for Symbian Belle phones will include:

  • Microsoft Lync 2010 Mobile for IM, presence, audio and Web meetings;
  • Microsoft PowerPoint Broadcast for broadcasting presentations from a desktop to a smartphone;
  • Microsoft OneNote for taking notes with images by syncing with Microsoft SkyDrive;
  • And Microsoft Document Connection, which provides a single view of documents stored on a smartphone including email attachments and documents on Microsoft SharePoint 2010 sites.

Early next year, Nokia said it will provide OneNote synchronization with SharePoint and will add Word, Excel and PowerPoint as native applications for the first time outside the Windows platform.

Some critics of Nokia's partnership with Microsoft wonder how successful Windows Phone Mango (version 7.5) will be and said the addition of Microsoft apps to Nokia's older Symbian line is a way for Nokia to hedge its bets if the Microsoft partnership doesn't pay off quickly.

The free productivity apps could also be a way to introduce a large number of Symbian users to Microsoft software. There are many more Symbian users outside the U.S. than inside and Symbian until this year had been the world's largest smartphone platform.

Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates, said Nokia's free apps are "more about getting the Symbian audience ready to make the move to Windows Phone.... It's a good way for Nokia and Microsoft to keep interest alive with users until the new Windows Mango phones are available."

Making the free apps available on the Symbian Belle phones doesn't cost either company much and the Belle phone users "get something to sweeten the deal to stay with Symbian," Gold said.

Nokia, in an official blog, said the updates "are a confirmation that Nokia has not done making investments and introducing innovation into the Symbian platform," adding that Nokia will provide software support to Symbian until at least 2016.

"Symbian is hugely important to our future ambitions," the blog added. "With support for Symbian in the years to come, there's plenty of time to get used to some of the apps you may be using to take advantage of the new Nokia with Windows Phone smartphones."

There has already been a connection between Symbian Belle smartphone models and the expected Windows Mango Phone from Nokia. A leaked photo that purportedly showed Nokia's first Mango phone called the device the Nokia 703. It has a 3.7-in. display, similar to one -- code-named Sea Ray -- shown by Nokia CEO Stephen Elop to employees.

Some bloggers theorized the 703 model number put the new phone in a class with Bell phones, with model numbers 700 and 701.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

Read more about mobile apps and services in Computerworld's Mobile Apps and Services Topic Center.

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Matt Hamblen

Computerworld (US)
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