Google this week beat Microsoft in a key technology delivery: It is now possible to sync Google's online contacts and calendar services to a wide variety of smart phones, including models that run Microsoft's Windows Mobile OS. That Google is quicker to market than the software giant is no surprise. But get this: Google's new Sync for Mobile Phones service uses a licensed Microsoft technology, ActiveSync, to do its thing. So Google isn't just faster than Microsoft. It's faster than Microsoft at deploying Microsoft's own technology.
Google Sync for Mobile Phones works with Google's Gmail Contacts and Calendar services, and provides over-the-air (OTA) synchronization of data between those services and a select group of smart phones including the Apple iPhone, RIM, BlackBerry, Nokia S60, various other phones from Nokia and Sony Ericsson, and phones running modern versions of Windows Mobile. The service is free of charge and works much like synchronization between Microsoft's Exchange Server and compatible mobile devices.
That's not coincidental: To make this service possible, Google has licensed Microsoft's Exchange ActiveSync technology. Typically, companies license this technology so that they can sync between Exchange and a particular device. In this case, however, Google is using the technology to sync between its own proprietary servers and a number of mobile devices. ActiveSync is, in effect, the middle man between these two endpoints.
"This agreement is a great example of Microsoft's openness to generally license our patents under fair and reasonable terms so long as licensees respect Microsoft intellectual property," Microsoft intellectual property lawyer Horacio Gutierrez noted in a prepared statement. Microsoft has now consummated over 500 IP-related licensing deals since it began sharing IP in 2003.
Microsoft, of course, is prepping its own synchronization service for consumer-oriented smart phones. Dubbed My Phone, the service is expected to appear in beta form later this month.