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A new educational platform aimed at teaching First Nations children about their culture could help organisations looking to understand more about the rich Indigenous history of the country they operate in.

When Bangerang custodian Kobe Atkinson was still a teenager, he realised that there wasn’t a written record of his peoples’ language. His response – at age 19 – along with his cousin Roland – was to create a dictionary, to avoid his people’s language being lost.

Atkinson, along with not-for-profit foundation – SharingStories – knows the value of educating First Nations children about their history and culture. Without sharing and recording that knowledge, thousands of years of history and language is at risk of being lost for future generations, he says. But the opportunities, he says, go beyond First Nations communities – to non-Indigenous Australians and business.

Atkinson – now a policy and business analyst – has worked with SharingStories for several years, in a bid to help the organisation build an ongoing, sustainable education platform for teachers and school aged children. SharingStories has recently launched Jajoo Warrngara: the Cultural Classroom in partnership with more than 10 Indigenous communities across six states and territories to provide units of work, resources, cultural films and multi-touch books for teachers and students.

Co-CEO Sharon Williams, a Pitta Pitta woman, says first and foremost, SharingStories has a mission to educate First Nations students – “without education, First Nations people will not be able to have self-determination and have better employment opportunities”.

“You come out of school not knowing how to pay your taxes, how to vote, or the history of the country you live on,” Miller says. “We are trying to change that.”

Williams – whose mother was Stolen Generation – says her mother knew the value of education, despite being only educated to Year Three herself, and encouraged her daughter to get a university education.  

She says the reach of Jajoo Warrngara has the potential to go beyond educating Indigenous children about their culture. The platform has the ability to teach non-Indigenous people and businesses about First Nations history – something that non-Indigenous Australia has been in need of for many years. A recent survey by SharingStories found that just 2% of teachers identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, however 79% of all teachers want more of an emphasis on First Nations’ history and culture in future learning. 

“It is important that people understand who we are, of our true history and also have an understanding of why things are the way they are. It is really important for us to have an understanding of this Country that we all live on,” Williams says.

“Some teachers believe they have adequate resources to teach an Indigenous perspective … however, they might get it wrong. They might do something very generic, or they might not understand that they shouldn’t be re-telling that dreaming story because it isn’t their dreaming story to tell. Everything we do is co-created with First Nations community partners, because we really want teachers to be comfortable teaching First Nations perspectives.”

Jajoo Warrngara is accessed via a 50-50 subscription model – where revenue is directly paid back to the communities that have helped to create the platform. The remaining 50% is used by SharingStories to reinvest in the platform, co-CEO Taz Miller says.  

“You come out of school not knowing how to pay your taxes, how to vote, or the history of the Country you live on,” Miller says. “We are trying to change that.”

SharingStories has partnered with Deloitte for four years as part of its strategy to build its social enterprise models and it is something that it wants to continue with Australian organisations. The Deloitte partnership has been crucial to the development of SharingStories, Miller says.

“From 10 years ago when we had these ideas, to developing Jajoo Warrngara we would never have gotten to this point without the help of Deloitte. We work side-by-side with them – in shared value – and it’s been special.”

Williams and Miller – who are Indigenous and non-Indigenous respectively – were recently appointed as co-CEOs of SharingStories (and pictured at the top of this article). They describe the move as part of the not-for-profit unique “both ways” leadership.

“It is important that people understand who we are, of our true history and also have an understanding of why things are the way they are,” Williams says.

The organisation itself was started in the same way around 15 years ago through a conversation between SharingStories co-founder and creative director, Liz Thompson and Nyikina Elder, Annie Nayina Milgin. Annie came to Liz with the idea of using digital technology to educate her community’s children about their culture and history. 

Both ways leadership – it’s about Indigenous and non-Indigenous people working together and using all our skills to achieve an outcome. Because cultural continuity is not just an Indigenous problem to solve – it’s everyone’s, according to Yuin man and SharingStories Chair Tim Goodwin.

“Both ways leadership can impact a business. It has been great for us – it’s how we started. In western hierarchy, the responsibility of a business ultimately sits on one person’s shoulders. But the way it is in community – governance is shared across people. When it’s your right and your turn, you become the person to speak, and when you’re on someone else’s Country, they become the leaders,” says Miller.

Both ways leadership – it’s about Indigenous and non-Indigenous people working together and using all our skills to achieve an outcome. Because cultural continuity is not just an Indigenous problem to solve – it’s everyone’s, according to Yuin man and SharingStories Chair Tim Goodwin.

Where does business fit?

SharingStories co-CEO, Sharon Williams, currently conducts culturally safe scans for an education environment. It is spread over four main areas: how does the environment work from a culturally safe perspective, what does it look like (can a child see themselves represented in the classroom), the content of the curriculum and community engagement.

The cultural scan is something that SharingStories hopes to develop for companies, along with an online training platform, designed with communities and providing culturally appropriate education resources.  It is currently working with online learning provider, Go1, to develop the program.

“Businesses think: how can we achieve our RAP? But in real terms, they could be thinking: ‘how can we be authentic in our engagement with community? Businesses don’t have the skills to do that, but we do,” Miller says. “We know how to work with community in a respectful way that’s going to have real, lasting impact.”

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Four Ways Ai Is Simplifying Business Processes

Artificial intelligence (AI) is everywhere these days. While the technology is still nascent, AI will undoubtedly play a central role in almost every business sector shortly. Proof of this fact is the presence of AI in several applications despite its current functionality barely scratching the surface of everything it can do.

From IoT to sales and marketing, AI is making an impact on the way companies approach their businesses. Here are four ways AI is currently revolutionizing businesses.

Smoothing IoT Development

Heavy industries were amongst the first to adopt IoT technology. From tracking part lifecycles to quality control, IoT plays a central role in the manufacturing and supply chain. The average IoT device transmits usage data to a control center that assimilates these datasets for further analysis.

While this picture sounds great, it has a few limitations. For starters, collaboration is tough when one control center has access to several data sets. For example, an IoT device attached to an industrial pump will generate datasets measuring flow output and part quality. These datasets are monitored by different teams and setting alerts for usage thresholds is challenging.

AI is changing this picture by allowing companies to create custom alerts for different teams within an organization. It also solves the issue surrounding the large volume of data. Human eyes take several hours to validate and parse these datasets. AI can crunch numbers in an instant and quickly alert operators of flawed use or potential risks.

Startups like Sternum are adding observability of this kind using AI to ease the work of IoT builders. 

Sternum has developed an AI-based learning engine that uses data from user-defined traces to create a profile of desired device behavior and to highlight important and abnormal patterns. The system starts collecting data as soon as a device is connected and, after a short learning period, starts acting as a second  set of eyes, providing alerts about unusual activities that would take human operators hours, or maybe days, to uncover — if at all.

The result is a safe operating environment that produces results at optimal efficiency.

Simplifying B2B SDR Processes

B2B sales are integral to a company’s success in those fields. However, B2B reps face significant challenges. For starters, buying cycles are lengthy and involve multiple stakeholders. Deciphering buying intent is challenging because sales conditions might change from a product demo request to a callback. For example, a competitor might release new features that bring more questions.

While companies cannot change the length of their customers’ buying cycles, they can give their reps more firepower in the sales process. AI-assisted selling is now a game changer in B2B sales and SDRs are better off for it.

Predictive AI can now offer sales reps buyer intent predictions based on their previous actions. By measuring engagement with marketing material and conversations, AI platforms can guide reps in figuring out the level of challenge present in closing a sale. 

Complementing predictive AI is prescriptive AI. While the former gives sales reps action items based on what happened, the latter crunches data in real time and offers reps a way forward. It offers a path for sales reps to close the deal.

Platforms like Demand Science track prospect behavior and pinpoint gaps in a company’s current sales process. The result is a smooth customer experience and more opportunities converted to sales. In some cases, AI platforms even use natural language processing to engage prospects while reps are away.

Thus, prospects remain engaged and reps can follow up with additional information, helping them close the sale even faster.

Enabling More Customer Self-Service

Chatbots have represented AI in the customer service field for a while now. However, recent developments have pushed AI further up the chain in customer service, helping companies reduce less-critical customer calls and service reps prioritize important ones.

AI can now engage with customers across several channels. The humble chatbot has become far more powerful and answers complex customer queries more than ever. For instance, an AI chatbot powered by Dialpad can retrieve data from previous conversations, customer order data, and dispute conversations to offer insights into statuses and much more.

The platform also engages with customers on voice channels. For example, a customer can dial a number and have common queries resolved by entering information that AI processes and relays via voice. The result is fewer call volumes and greater customer service efficiency.

AI is also great at detecting when a customer wishes to speak to a human being instead of being engaged with a robot. Often, customers struggle to retrieve a phone number or email that puts them in touch with a human. AI can quickly offer this number as an answer to a simple question.

Reducing Complexity for Accountants

Accounting is a highly arcane field where the smallest error can compound issues. Large corporations cannot risk restating their financial results for fear of brand damage and other repercussions such as stock price nosedives.

Currently, AI embedded in accounting platforms automate bookkeeping and clerical tasks such as account payables matching. For instance, once a payment is cleared, AI classifies it per the right journal entries and matches the payment receipt to the invoice and PO. 

As a result, accountants have all the information they need at their fingertips. More sophisticated platforms, such as the one under development at chúng tôi  go a step further and automate accounting entries. The result is less clerical work for accountants and more time for analysis of financial performance.

AI also makes reporting easy. CFOs seeking financial insights into their performance can ask for data in natural language and receive a custom report with the ability to drill deeper into data.

AI is Just Getting Started

Is Your Business Really A Small Business?

The SBA defines which companies are officially designated as small businesses.

Your industry determines whether your business’s designation depends on its number of employees or its annual revenue.

You can find your industry code in the U.S. Census Bureau’s NAICS publication.

This article is for business owners who are trying to determine whether their organization is technically considered a small business.

You can call your company a small business, but if you don’t meet the SBA’s definition you could lose out on some opportunities. The SBA’s standards for small businesses are based on three factors: your company type, your average annual revenues and your number of employees. Is your business truly small? Read on to find out.

How to tell if you own a small business

To qualify as a small business, a company must fall within the size standard, or the largest size a business may be to remain classified as small, within its industry. 

The U.S. Census Bureau provides a list of industry codes to help businesses determine their size designation, and the SBA maintains an extensive list of small business size standards with the maximum requirements to remain classified as a small business in each sector and subsector.

“The definition of ‘small business’ is dependent on which industry code a company is in,” said Molly Gimmel, CEO of Design to Delivery. “My company’s primary code is 541611. In that industry, a small business is defined as one with average revenues, based on the past three completed fiscal years, that are less than $16.5 million.”

Though size standards vary by industry, they are usually measured by the number of employees or average annual receipts. The current SBA business size standards include the following.

Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting: Between $2 million and $30 million in average annual receipts, depending on your subsector.

Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction: No more than 250 to 1,500 employees, depending on your subsector. There are four sectors with annual revenue rather than employee limits, ranging from $18 million to $41.5 million.

Utilities: No more than 250 to 1,000 employees, depending on your sector. There are three sectors with annual revenue limits instead, ranging from $26.5 million to $36 million.

Construction: Between $16.5 and $39.5 million in average annual receipts.

Manufacturing: No more than 500 to 1,500 employees, depending on your subsector.

Wholesale trade: No more than 100 to 250 employees, depending on your subsector.

Retail trade: No more than $8 to $41.5 million in average annual receipts, depending on your subsector. Other subsectors have defined employee maximums from 100 to 200.

Transportation and warehousing: No more than 500 to 1,500 employees, depending on your subsector. Some subsectors have maximum average annual receipt limits ranging from $8 million to $41.5 million.

Information: No more than 250 to 1,500 employees, depending on your subsector. The maximum average annual receipts ranges from $9.5 million to $41.5 million.

Finance and insurance: No more than 1,500 employees for direct property and casualty insurance carriers, and a maximum of $13 million to $41.5 million in average annual receipts. Certain financial institutions instead qualify as small businesses if they have no more than $750 million in assets.

Real estate, rental and leasing: No more than $8 million to $41.5 million in average annual receipts.

Professional, scientific and technical services: No more than $8 million to $41.5 million in average annual receipts, or no more than 150 to 1,500 employees, depending on your subsector.

Management of companies and enterprises: No more than $34 million in average annual receipts for offices of bank holding companies. Offices of other holding companies must earn no more than $40 million in average annual receipts.

Administrative and support, waste management, and remediation services: No more than $7.5 million to $41.5 million in average annual receipts, depending on your subsector.

Educational services: No more than $8 million to $41.5 million in average annual receipts, depending on your subsector.

Healthcare and social assistance: No more than $7.5 million to $38.5 million in average annual receipts, depending on your subsector.

Arts, entertainment and recreation: No more than $8 million to $41.5 million in average annual receipts, depending on your subsector.

Accommodation and food services: No more than $8 million to $41.5 million in average annual receipts, depending on your subsector.

Other services: No more than $7 million to $41.5 million in average annual receipts depending on your subsector.

Benefits of being classified as a small business

Business size classification isn’t frivolous. Being classified as a small business comes with certain benefits, so it’s important to know if your business qualifies. Here are some of the benefits small businesses can enjoy.

Loans: Rather than lending money directly to businesses, the SBA works with lenders and essentially acts as a co-signer for small businesses seeking loans. This provides lenders a stronger guarantee that they’ll be paid back, which gives small businesses access to better rates than they might receive on their own.


If you need to obtain funding for your small business, visit our page on the best business loans.

Opinion: Mac Business Is Booming

 Apple’s Mac sales shot up 50 per cent year-on-year in April, driving a 46 per cent spike in revenue, according to the NPD Group.

NPD also revealed that – far from slowing down – iPod sales also jumped 15 per cent that month. And Lehman Brothers analyst Ben Reitzes reckons new Mac laptops – equipped with MacBook Air-type touch technology – are on the way. (And maybe more).

“Checks are indicating that the attractive look of the Air may make its way into other models in terms of slimmer, metallic designs. We believe these notebooks will be popular for the back-to-school and holiday shopping seasons,” the analyst said. Oddly, that’s what we were saying last week…pegging the date as July-ish…(We predicted the iMac intro a month early too, fact fans).

It’s just the latest in a string of industry trend-beating news from Apple Inc. As 9 to 5 Mac reported (before the majority of the Mac web) earlier this week, NPD figures show Apple to be the brand of choice in the high-end laptop market. An astonishing 66 per cent of laptops sold in the US costing $1,000 or more are made by Apple. While Apple’s share falls to just 14 per cent  in the sub-$1,000 bracket, it’s an incredibly significant figure all the same. (And yeah, we know those Windows Fanboys will begin to chunder on about how the only Mac we can buy for under $1,000 is the Mac mini, get over it, those cheap PCs just don’t offer the same degree of utility, usability or features as a Mac, and run a second-rate OS).

Apple’s making market gains through a combination of factors: superior operating system, better-featured and aesthetically-designed Macs, a world-class retail store chain, and the increasingly vapid WIndows market. Apple’s iPod and iPhone have put the corporate brand into consumer minds, meaning that 50 per cent of Macs sold through Apple’s retail stores are going to users new to the platform.

High-tech also counts: I think many experienced industry watchers missed the significance of the MacBook Air when it shipped: but the whole notion of a computer you can put inside an envelope has caught on on the streets, people remember this. Which is why Apple’s recent 10Q noted: “The increases in Mac net sales and unit sales were driven primarily by sales of the new MacBook Air, introduced in January 2008, and higher sales of the iMac and other Mac portable systems.”

Proof of the pudding’s in the eating: Mac unit growth reached 51 per cent and 48 per cent in the second quarter of Q2 and first six months of 2008 respectively – exceeding the industry average.

Apple’s laptop sales climbed 61 per cent, with 2.29 million Macs sold in Q2, 1.433 million of Macs sold were laptops.

Surging Mac sales caused Apple CEO Steve Jobs to reflect last October: “The question is, are we headed for a tipping point, it sometimes feels like that.”

IDC claims 23.5 million computers were sold in the first quarter of 2008 in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, which is equivalent to 19 per cent sales growth over Q1 2007. Apple’s overall Mac sales in Europe climbed 45 per cent in the March quarter.

And the effect? Apple accounted for 7.58 per cent of all US Internet users in March, up near 15 per cent, year-on-year. And Apple is now the leading supplier of laptops within the US education markets.

So while those inexpensive PCs may dominate the market share numbers, when it comes to users looking to make a serious computing investment in order to actually, you know, do stuff, Apple’s growing share and dominance in the $1,000-plus category promises great things…

….and isn’t the Mac mini due an upgrade soon? With near $20 billion in the bank, is there any real reason now Apple can’t ramp-up its competitiveness at the lower end of the market? (Not one they’ve traditionally played in, I agree).

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7 Ways To Use A Smartwatch For Business

Smartwatches can be an asset to businesses of all kinds, helping employees and owners efficiently juggle an array of assignments and tasks.

Smartwatches can help employees keep up with calls and texts, and make it easier to take notes throughout the day.

You can load your favorite productivity apps onto smartwatches, helping you stay organized and manage your time.

This article is for smartwatch owners who want to use their devices to improve their work efficiency. 

That smart and tech-savvy computer on your wrist is good for more than counting your steps and reminding you when to get up from your chair. Your smartwatch can be an effective business tool – an always-connected digital assistant that can boost productivity while helping you juggle the workday’s unending tasks. 

Whether you have an Apple Watch, Android Wear device or one of Samsung’s popular Galaxy watches, you’ll find a powerful companion to assist with everything from notification management to staying abreast of current events. We’ll explore seven smartwatch business uses to improve efficiency and streamline your workday.

Here are seven ways your smartwatch can act as an indispensable business tool. 

1. Smartwatches can make sure you never miss a call.

One of the initial appeals of a smartwatch is that you’ll never miss a crucial work call because you can’t get to your phone. For business owners, sales professionals, and IT teams, missing a critical call can cost an organization dearly. 

How extensively you can use your smartwatch to take calls depends on your wearable device model. For example, the Apple Watch Series 7 offers cellular connectivity – you can wander as far away from your phone as you wish.

If Apple isn’t for you, there are other choices. The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 and the LG W150 also offer connectivity and work with both iPhones and Android devices.

However, keep in mind that cellular connectivity is going to cost you. With most carriers, you’ll pay $10 extra per month for your watch to access the mobile network. It’s a bit steep considering you’re not going to use much data, but for those who want to stay connected, the price might be worth the freedom.


If you use an Apple Watch, an array of Apple Watch bands for business can help you outfit your wearable for a professional environment.

2. You can take notes with smartwatches.

Inspiration can strike at any time. Smartwatches allow you to dictate a quick note so you can expand on your thoughts later. Apps such as Evernote and OneNote enable you to dictate voice notes while on the go.

You can also check current notes or get reminders from several different services without taking your phone out of your pocket. Use the Apple Reminders app or your favorite third-party service to ensure nothing slips your mind. No matter what watch brand you use, there are apps and services to ensure your fleeting thoughts are documented for later use.

Did You Know?

Aside from being an excellent note-taking tool, OneNote is one of the best apps for remote business collaboration, letting teams sync and share notes across devices. 

3. Smartwatches are a key travel tool.

If your business or career takes you on the road, a smartwatch can take the stress out of business travel by extending the information you usually get from your phone. 

Updates from watch-accessible services such as TripIt can ensure you don’t miss any critical itinerary details. Also, regular calendar alerts – and the ability to pull up a map – help make travel information more easily accessible. 

While you can access your business travel details via your phone, accessing the best business travel apps on your smartwatch can save you time and be a much more efficient and convenient way to stay on track. 

4. Smartwatches make great task managers.

Smartphones have eliminated the need to scratch out your daily to-dos on paper; however, it’s not always convenient to reach for your phone, especially if your hands are full.

In that case, a smartwatch is an ideal companion. With a glance, you can check what you need to accomplish or pull up essential meeting notes on your wrist with apps and services like Todoist and

If you have an Apple Watch, iPhone business apps with task-management capabilities can organize your day. If you use an Android smartwatch, there are excellent Android apps for efficient workday planning that will sync seamlessly with your phone. No matter your ecosystem, you can also use Google Calendar to access all your appointments from your wrist. [Learn more tips and tricks for using Google Calendar.]

5. Smartwatches make communication convenient.

Such a tiny screen won’t replace the convenience of messaging from a smartphone, but your smartwatch is still an excellent messaging tool. For example, you can subtly glance at your wrist to find out when your next meeting is – while you’re currently stuck in a different meeting. 

Apple Watch, in particular, makes it easy to sketch out a note or reply with a preprogrammed phrase while you’re otherwise occupied. While it may not be the most polite way to keep in touch, it’s an efficient option when necessary.

A smartwatch strikes the right balance between using your smartphone less while not missing any important calls or notifications.

6. You can stay abreast of current events with a smartwatch.

A smartwatch makes it possible to stay informed about what’s going on in your industries, your region, and the globe. With a range of available smartwatch applications, you can download your favorite social media or news apps and enable notifications. 

While reading a full news story on your wrist isn’t ideal, glancing at headlines on your smartwatch is an efficient way to stay abreast of developing or breaking news in situations when it’s not possible to read a news article on a computer or phone. 


Many small business productivity apps have smartwatch versions that you can use in tandem with your smartphone to help with time management, collaboration and communication.

7. Smartwatches help you pay bills on time.

Missing bill payments at work or in your personal life can cause enormous distraction and hassle. You can use your smartwatch to stay on top of your home and business expenses, and to pay pending bills quickly. 

Smartwatches make it possible to manage bills and expenses without using a cell phone, computer or wallet. They also include tip calculators, making it easier to calculate gratuities for business lunches and ride-sharing services. 

Derek Walter and Adam Uzialko contributed to the reporting and writing in this article. 

Microsoft Mobile: ‘Danger Is My Business’

Microsoft has spent more than eight years and millions of dollars developing both its Windows Mobile smartphone technology and an enterprise marketplace for it.

Despite that hefty investment, the company says it is now poised to push into consumer markets — but not using Windows Mobile.

Instead, it plans to turn to Danger, Inc., a vendor of consumer smartphone software. Microsoft said Monday it would acquire the privately held firm for an undisclosed sum.

Since its founding in 2000, Palo Alto, Calif.-based Danger has established a platform, a reputation and an audience for its popular consumer handset technologies — embodied in the Sidekick, a phone sold by wireless carrier T-Mobile, built by Motorola and powered by Danger’s systems and applications software.

Now, Microsoft has decided that Danger is a must-have purchase if it wants to speed up its quest to become a heavy-hitter in the high-volume, less-expensive realm of consumer smartphones and their accompanying services.

“We’re broadening our customer base, trying to nail the business requirements [for enterprise customers] and we also know we need to address the consumer space,” Scott Rockfeld, group product manager with Microsoft’s mobile communications group, told chúng tôi

Long road ahead for Microsoft

The announcement comes on the heels of a report last week by analysis firm Canalys that put Windows Mobile-powered phones in a distant second place globally for 2007.

The report found Windows Mobile held 13 percent of the market, far behind Symbian OS devices, at 67 percent.

On top of that, in the higher-end smartphone and “converged devices” category, Microsoft actually came in behind Apple’s iPhone during the fourth calendar quarter of 2007, the report states.

Canalys’ figures nearly match numbers from analysis firm Gartner, which found Symbian held a 62 percent share during third quarter, while Windows Mobile had only 12.7 percent.

In what might help Microsoft gain a greater foothold in the market, Danger is primarily a software and services company. As a result, it could fit tightly into both Microsoft’s emerging software-plus-services initiative, while boosting its consumer-focused mobile device strategy.

It’s unclear how the deal with T-Mobile and the Sidekick itself will figure into Microsoft’s plans. Part of that may also be contingent on whether Motorola spins off its mobile phone business — a move it’s considering.

For now, however, Microsoft plans to continue the T-Mobile deal.

“We have no plans to change those relationships, but what we do want to do in the future is take those consumer assets and combine them with the enterprise apps and provide a unified device — one phone for your entire life,” Rockfeld said.

Microsoft has made significant headway in recent years with Windows Mobile, carving out a niche in the smartphone marketplace, even out maneuvering established rivals in what has primarily become a market for high-end phones with enterprise applications such as corporate e-mail.

In that regard, the company has done well recently. For example, Gartner puts Research in Motion’s Blackberry — a popular device with business users — at 10 percent share for the third quarter of 2007. (Canalys lists a similar figure for the entire year.)

However, due to the relative expense of the devices and the services, as well as Microsoft’s focus on enterprise customers, the company has been largely stymied in marketing Windows Mobile devices to consumers so far.

That may change with the purchase of Danger.

“If you’re Microsoft and you have a big pot of money, you can start investing in some alternative systems,” Roger Kay, president of consultancy Endpoint Technologies, told chúng tôi “Buying their way into consumer electronics is an interesting play for them.”

That’s in contrast to other Microsoft consumer electronics ventures, such as the Xbox game consoles and Zune music players. In both cases, the company developed and built the devices itself, while also writing the software.

Meanwhile, the Danger acquisition signifies a willingness for Microsoft to buy its way into the consumer mobile handset software market, jumpstarting its efforts with an already-established player.

“One of the big things is Danger brings an immense knowledge of young consumers [to the table],” Rockfeld said.

Among the capabilities that Danger’s software and services provide are instant messaging, e-mail, Web browsing, social networking and personal information management — all in a consumer-friendly device, he said.

“We realize that we need to capture consumers’ hearts and minds,” he added.

Additionally, Microsoft recently moved to beef up its executive ranks to strengthen its push into the consumer phone market. Among other changes, Microsoft in late January hired Todd Peters, a former Staples exec to serve as vice president of marketing for Microsoft’s mobile communications business.

While at Staples, Peters championed the office supply firm’s “easy button” marketing campaign.

Danger will be integrated into Microsoft’s Entertainment and Devices Division, headed by division president Robbie Bach, who Peters reports to, according to a Microsoft statement.

Alongside those changes, Microsoft also is setting aggressive sales targets for itself, even within the coming months. Rockfeld said the company expects to have sold 20 million new Windows Mobile-based phones during its current fiscal year, which ends June 30 — an increase from 11 million a year earlier.

The Google factor

Perhaps more than a little ironically, one of the original co-founders of Danger, Andrew Rubin, sold his latest startup, Android, to Google in 2005.

These days, Google and Rubin are behind the Open Handset Alliance. The group has adopted Android technology as its integrated, open source mobile operating system stack — a threat to Windows Mobile, and possibly to Danger, in the future.

Google has yet to signal that it plans to mount a challenge to the Danger acquisition on antitrust grounds — as it has Microsoft’s separate purchase offer for Yahoo. Even if it doesn’t contest the Danger bid, Google’s growing clout in mobile and the burgeoning interest in Android may spell trouble ahead for any competing offering.

Additionally, another fact about the Danger acquisition might make Microsoft swallow hard as it gobbles up the company: the smaller firm’s software is built on Java — anathema to Microsoft.

Despite assertions that longer-term, Microsoft is looking to create a unified offering, how Microsoft will deal with Danger’s reliance on Java remains unresolved question.

“Those decisions have not been made yet,” Rockfeld said.

Details of the Danger sale were not disclosed, nor was a timeframe for when the deal will be finalized.

Rockfeld said the proposed acquisition is currently under regulatory review.

This article was first published on chúng tôi

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