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SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) will focus on improving music in future versions of its Windows Mobile software for mobile phones, an executive told Reuters on Friday. Software giant Microsoft's mobile communications division provides operating systems for smartphones and other mobile devices based on the Windows Mobile platform.
"One thing that Apple (AAPL.O) has leveraged on is the music scenario, and I think that that is something the operators and ourselves are partnering on, just to make sure that consumers can use live music in the best way," said Andy Lees, senior vice president of Microsoft's Mobile Communications Business. He declined to provide any details.
Microsoft competes with Apple Inc's popular iPhone, Research in Motion's (RIM) RIMM.ORIM.TO Blackberry device, Palm Inc PALM.O, as well as Finland's Nokia NOK1V.HE, which uses the Symbian-based operating system on its handsets.
Lees said music in cellphones was a huge business opportunity, since every year consumers bought 10 times as many music-enabled cellphones as iPods.
Windows Mobile users now listen to and manage their songs through the Windows Media Player program on their cellphones, similar to the one that runs on their computers.
In the Jan-March quarter, Microsoft shipped 4.3 million units of its Windows Mobile software, up 1.9 million units from the year-ago quarter. In comparison, Apple sold a total of 1.7 million iPhones in the same period, said research firm IDC.
IDC forecast sales of Windows Mobile smartphones to consumers will double that of the iPhone in the next four years.
Microsoft's managing director of OEM embedded devices in Asia, Eddie Wu, told Reuters the software giant expected global unit sales of its Windows Mobile software to grow at least 50 percent annually in fiscal years 2008 and 2009.
The company expects to ship 20 million units in its 2007/2008 fiscal year ending June, after selling over 11 million units in its 2006/2007 fiscal year.
(Editing by Lincoln Feast)
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