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Hotmail comes to Vodafone UK

Messaging pact with MSN

Vodafone UK is preparing to extend Microsoft MSN functionality to users of its Vodafone Live service, say reports.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Vodafone Live users will, from May, be able to access their Hotmail e-mail accounts and have the ability to use MSN Messenger, an instant messaging (IM) service, through their mobile phones. Vodafone Live is the company's suite of mobile entertainment services, which include downloadable games and ringtones, as well as news and information services and limited location-based and m-commerce facilities.

For Microsoft, the move is expected to further deepen the company's impact in the mobile space, following a push over the last two years that has seen the Redmond giant introduce mobile operating systems, new wireless gadgets and scaled-down versions of its popular software applications.

Vodafone, meanwhile, will now be able to tempt its 13 million UK subscribers to engage in additional wireless data activities, from which the company is looking to draw 20 percent of its revenues by next year. Vodafone already offers IM and e-mail services through Vodafone Live, but the company has admitted that its e-mail service pales in comparison to Hotmail. Microsoft and Vodafone have already teamed up in the UK to give business users access to e-mail.

In the UK, Microsoft says it has 7.4 million active Hotmail users and 4.6 million active users of the MSN instant-messaging service, which allows users to see when contacts are on-line. Microsoft and Vodafone will share revenue generated by the new messaging service.

In related news, it was revealed this week that Israeli start-up Mobilitec has signed a deal with Vodafone Ireland for the deployment of the firm's mPower software platform, which is used to deliver and manage m-content. Vodafone Ireland said that it has been using mPower for some time to handle the delivery of mobile games and ringtones on Vodafone Live in Ireland. MPower is also integrated with Vodafone Ireland's billing system for these services.

The announcement follows reports from late 2002 that said Mobilitec had inked a USD20 million deal with four Vodafone companies to deploy its technology. The deal would be Mobilitec's largest to date. For its part, Vodafone Ireland said it could not reveal the value of its agreement but admitted that Mobilitec's technology was in fact being deployed on other Vodafone networks in Europe.


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