Ballmer: Microsoft wants a piece of your phone

The Microsoft CEO spoke at the start of CTIA (Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association) Wireless 2001, an industry conference that attracts mobile operators, handset makers and, increasingly, the computing industry. Other speakers this week will include the chief executives of Intel, Dell and Yahoo, a list that highlights the expected convergence of telecommunications and IT.

Ballmer was expected to announce a partnership with High Tech Computer (HTC), the Taiwanese company that designs and manufactures Compaq's iPaq, and a broadening of its relationship with Mitsubishi Wireless Communications. Both companies have agreed to use Microsoft software in future mobile phones, Microsoft said in a statement.

The software giant is just one of the companies trying to secure a place for its software in what is expected to be a huge market for so-called smart phones, or mobile phones that can double as personal organisers, send and receive e-mail and do basic Web surfing. Other contenders include Sun, Palm and Symbian.

Ballmer was expected to say that HTC has agreed to use Stinger -- the codename for Microsoft's software platform for smart phones -- in handsets that HTC plans to release later this year, Microsoft said. HTC doesn't sell to end users, but delivers phones through mobile operators and other handset suppliers.

Boosting its efforts to attract enterprise customers to the Pocket PC, Ballmer may also highlight a deal in which J.D. Edwards & Co. will make Pocket PC the exclusive PDA platform it supports for information systems based on OneWorld, its ERP (enterprise resource planning) package, Microsoft said.

Finally, the software maker said Ballmer would highlight a new partnership between MSN (Microsoft Network) and Motorola to build an MSN Mobile messaging device, intended to give users an "affordable and easy" way to access the Internet wirelessly, Microsoft said in the statement.