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Microsoft, Avanade, Team to Focus on Windows Phone Enterprise Apps

lumia_1Microsoft and Avanade, an Accenture-owned technology solutions and managed services provider, have announced they're working together to drive adoption of the Windows Phone platform through the creation of a number of enterprise solutions and services.

The announcement follows Nokia's introduction of the Lumia 800, its first Windows Phone smartphone and a device it hopes will penetrate both users' home and professional lives. Like Research In Motion, Microsoft, a traditionally business-minded company, has been working tirelessly to try and woo mainstream audiences away from Android handsets and the Apple iPhone. But as iPhones and high-end Android phones are introduced into the enterprise by determined users, Microsoft, like RIM, is putting new energy into proving it can still rule the business roost.

Ben Reierson, group manager for Avanade’s Innovation and Incubation Group, told Connected Planet that the Nokia Lumia (CP: Nokia intros Lumia and Asha phones with emphasis on craftsmanship) was indeed launched as a consumer product, but that "going after consumers includes going after all parts of their lives."

Though this trend of the "consumerization of IT," he said, "presents security concerns and technical boundaries. There are challenges on both sides — of setting things up in a way that lets workers work comfortably and be happy, but that keeps the company protected from risk."

In a statement, Ian Jordan, Avanade executive vice president, said that "Microsoft's strengths in consumer, enterprise solutions and cloud services positions it well to create a compelling mobile offering to empower a new generation of consumers and organizations."

Jordan expects the announcement, he added, to "stimulate innovation in mobility."

Microsoft and Avanade also announced that they will create Windows Phone Centers of Excellence in the United States, Europe, China and India to foster innovations for enterprises, mobile operators and original equipment manufacturers.

"We're dedicating groups of specialists in all the geographies we're especially focusing on," said Reierson. "So instead of saying all of our employees are equally ready to implement mobile apps, we'll take the employees who are most ready ... and help them skill up and scale up to meet that demand."

The success of Windows Phone is as important to Microsoft as sales of Windows Phone smartphones are to Nokia — which also has a relationship with Accenture (Unfiltered: Nokia outsources Symbian's retirement to Accenture).

Research firm Gartner announced today that Microsoft's worldwide mobile market share fell to 1.5% from 2.7% a year earlier (Android's, by contrast, rose from 25.3% to 52.5%). In the mobile device market, Nokia held on to its lead, though its share fell to 23.9% from 28.2%, and feature phones, not smartphones, were to thank.

"Dual-SIM phones in particular, and feature phones generally, maintained Nokia's momentum in emerging markets," wrote Gartner analyst Roberta Cozza. "Heavy marketing from both Nokia and Microsoft to push the new Lumia devices should bring more improvement in the fourth quarter of 2011. However, a true turnaround won't take place until the second half of 2012."

Nokia and Microsoft will also need to attract more developers to bring improvement, and Reierson expects the creation of the Centers for Excellence, and the resources the pair are putting into the platform will help accomplish this.

"As a developer myself — that's my background — I consider Windows Phone to be the most fun to develop for," he said. "The toolset is second to none, and it's built on .Net, which is the most modern and easiest to work with. There are a lot of developers who are exited for it, because it's so much easier and rewarding."

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