A while back, The Wireless Report spoke to executives from both Sprint Nextel and Microsoft about their alliance in mobile search and the partnership that Sprint and Microsoft were going to form on Sprint's wireless web property (WAP deck).
Answers below were courtesy of Michael Inserra at Sprint and Matt Champagne at Microsoft. Thanks guys for being so kind in answering our questions! Let's begin.1) Please explain the Microsoft Windows Live search and its capabilities related to its partnership with Sprint for our readers.
While developing Windows Live Search for mobile we had an essential understanding that mobile search is not the same as searching on a PC. Searching on your device, on the go, is more about immediacy and action, so we are designing software and striking partnerships that make mobile search more efficient and usable in the hands of a mobile customer. We've worked to make sure Windows Live Search for mobile allows consumers to search the Web and search for local points of interest, providing easy access to precise answers alongside actionable and useful information.
As brought to life by this announcement with Sprint, we have also worked very hard to ensure that Windows Live Search for mobile is optimized for the needs and business models of our partners, such as Sprint. This "optimization" delivers more accurate search results of content in the operator portal, monetization opportunities for local businesses and advertisers, and more meaningful results for mobile search customers. Translated to devices, when a Sprint customer pulls up the Sprint vision deck, at the bottom of listing page is a search box. This search box is now powered by Windows Live to connect users to people, places and businesses. Any search will return relevant location-based content from the Internet as well as Sprint's catalog of ringtones, games and related services. For example, a customer who searches for "sports" on their wireless phone will see results from Sprint's catalogue such as NFL-related wallpapers, screensavers and ringtones, in additional to local information available online such as business listings like sports stores, maps, directions to the nearest ballpark or relevant advertisements from local businesses. The user can see driving directions or execute a save-as for contact information (phone numbers, street number/names) to their handset.
From Microsoft's perspective, we're approaching the mobile search opportunity looking at the technology and user experience, while also considering partnerships and the best way to engage with the industry to not only deliver the best services to customers, but also provide new opportunities for mobile operators, OEMs and advertisers to drive new revenue streams and build up the ecosystem.2) Will Windows Live Search completely replace the search tools and capabilities across the WAP decks for Sprint? How about Nextel?
Other local search applications we offer on devices will still be available. However, a major difference is that Sprint's mobile search powered by Windows Live combines the functionality of local search services with the ability to search internal content such as ringtones, applications, etc. Also, Sprint's local search text entry box is integrated on the Sprint mobile web home page - where it is more easily accessed, discovered and used then other solutions. Additionally, Sprint's service will be immediately available, and at no extra charge, to Sprint data users (on compatible handsets) without requiring a download, web page re-direction, or any other action from the end user - unlike other search applications.
Sprint's mobile search powered by Windows Live is not available on Nextel devices today (those that operate on our iDEN network) but it will be in the future; the specific date is TBD.3) With Sprint recently acknowledging that it will provide a link to the new downloadable Google Gmail java application for mobiles, will the Windows Live Search feature some kind of mobile access to email beyond the searching applications for Sprint's entire WAP deck?
No. The search application and email applications are separate. We do offer access to Google Gmail from the device, as you indicate. In late November, Sprint launched Sprint Mobile Email, a new downloadable email client powered by SEVEN. The application provides easy access to multiple email accounts in one place and users can access their accounts from well-known providers including Windows Live.