Portuguese oil co. touts latest MS SmartPhone

Unusual bedfellows

It is almost certainly the first time anybody other than a phone company has launched a mobile phone: GALP and Microsoft have done a deal to provide an AEG-built Windows-powered (PocketPC) device to GALP partners and customers. Microsoft's Steve Ballmer himself will be in Lisbon today to announce the deal.

"This marks the first deal of its kind -- in which a major national corporation, whose core business is not affiliated with anything phones nor technology, delivers and brands a mobile phone," said Microsoft last night. More details will emerge after Steve Ballmer gives his speech at 11.00 AM.

If this doesn't frighten the cosy cartel of mobile phone makers, it can only be because they are already terrified of the shape of Microsoft looming in their rear-view mirrors.

Portugal's largest mobile operator, TMN, will distribute the Smartphone nationally through a huge "instant retail network"

The network, says Microsoft, comprises convenience stores, petrol stations and retailers franchised or owned by Galp Energia, Portugal's leading oil and gas company, this summer.

The phone itself is not quite the mystery it may sound - it's the "Tanager" - the phone which T-Mobile will announce in a few weeks for American distribution, and which Orange will release in Scandinavian countries this month.

Built by HTC, it is essentially an updated Orange SPV with a brighter display and an easier keyboard to use. It will be branded by AEG, and the Galp phone will carry the AEG logo. Mysteriously, Microsoft added: "AEG is working with Dangaard Telecom to bring the Smartphone to market."

Key product features will include GALP related services, such as loyalty program information and account services, location-based content and services; and other services, such as driver assistance, location-based information (maps, routing, traffic info, POI data base) and auto-related content, provided by FastAccess.

FastAccess is a joint venture of Galp Energia and Brisa - one of the largest private motorway operators in Europe and the leader in the Portuguese market. FastAccess is described as the leading Portuguese driver-related and Telematics mobility services provider.

Juha Christensen, vice president of the Mobile Devices Marketing Group for Microsoft, said: "Partnerships will become increasingly important in the mobile industry and this is a great example of how together partners can reap the business benefits of mobile data communications and at the same time provide innovative services for their customers."

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