Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Telstra and Microsoft join forces

Telstra and Microsoft today announced a deal which will see the pair link their products and brand names to target small business customers.

Tracey Fellows
"Our goal is to make the combination of PCs, mobile devices and the web something that is significantly more than the sum of its parts," Tracey Fellows, MD for Microsoft Australia said at a media briefing in Sydney. "We believe that with this partnership with Telstra, we are well on the way to doing this."

The companies have announced three areas in which they will integrate their products. The first is hosted business applications where Microsoft's online services offering hosted applications will take pride of place in Telstra's newly launched software as a service portal T-Suite, although Telstra's group MD product management Holly Kramer insisted that other vendors wanting to sell on T-Suite wouldn't be short changed.

"It won't change the opportunity for other applications to be a part of the portal at all... [Microsoft's software] we think will obviously be a hero application," she said.

Deena Shiff, group managing director of Telstra Business clarified Kramer's statement. "Hero means... we've obviously needed to make some choices between best of breed. We've clearly made the choice that Microsoft represents that and so we wouldn't be seeking to replicate those particular types of services." Local software vendors could have a part in developing specialised applications in areas such as compliance, Shiff said.

Holly Kramer

The second area of collaboration for Microsoft was mobile, in which Telstra has been developing a skin for Windows Mobile devices which will cut down the number of steps to reach and use applications such as email.

Telstra will also be offering a pay per month Outlook mobile email service using the firm's existing server infrastructure, or an advanced management option which would also include having software upgrades pushed out to phones or applications deployed.

The third area of collaboration was unified communications, where Telstra's hosted internet protocol-based (IP) telephony service will be integrated into Microsoft Office, allowing click to call, the ability to see when contacts were available or offline, as well as instant messaging and video-conferencing.

The companies would not disclose how the revenue would be shared between the companies, saying the percentage wasn't set."For us both, we see it as a bigger pie," Microsoft's Fellows said.

"The real principle behind the alliance is that if we can make [products], you know, represented by two strong brands that people trust and make them simple to buy and purchase, as Tracy said, we can grow the pie," Kramer added.

"We want to make it easy to purchase, easy to use and easy to manage," Fellows said. "That's the aim of this whole alliance."

This was the second deal Telstra has entered into this week with a global company. Google also shook hands with the telco as Telstra subsidiary Sensis allowed its Yellow Business Listings to be integrated into Google's search.

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