Microsoft is asking Samsung to bring its walkie-talkie technology to workplace smartphones

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<pre><pre>Microsoft is asking Samsung to bring its walkie-talkie technology to workplace smartphones

DJ Koh, President and CEO of Samsung Electronics, shakes hands with Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, at a launch event for the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 smartphone in New York on August 7, 2019.

Drew Angerer | Getty Images

Samsung Electronics and Microsoft bring back the walkie-talkie.

On Sunday, Samsung introduced the Galaxy XCover Pro, a smartphone with a push-to-talk button that can be used to start a chat with the Microsoft team app. It is a joint effort by the two technology giants to get their mobile technology into the hands of more workers who spend their days and nights navigating through hospital corridors, supermarket aisles and airplane cabins.

Samsung is the second largest provider of smartphones in the United States after Apple, which has expanded its leadership position through corporate functions such as security and identity management. Microsoft has largely abandoned cell phones and thrown its smartphone operating system overboard, but the company still has a big game on the phone with its cloud-based Office 365 suite that includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and teams.

Microsoft created the prerequisites for the Samsung agreement last week by announcing a push-to-talk feature in teams and announced that it will be available to a limited number of customers in the first half of the year. The focus is on Android.

At the end of the third quarter, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced that the company had 200 million active Office 365 users per month. It has invested heavily in the development and marketing of teams that compete with Slack.

"One device less"

Emma Williams, corporate vice president for office industries at Microsoft, said that by adding useful features to teams, the company is trying to provide people with a safer tool for chatting with colleagues than many of the consumer apps used in the workplace become. whether it's WhatsApp from Facebook or WeChat from Tencent.

This also reduces the number of devices that need to be carried around. Williams said when shopping over the holidays from a retailer, she saw a man wearing a personal phone, a work phone, a walkie-talkie, and a pager on his belt.

"The product we ship extends the reach of traditional walkie-talkie communication," Williams said in an interview. "It reduces license and deployment costs and is one less device for employees."

It is not the first time that Microsoft has come onto the market. In 2017, the company announced a package that included office and other products for so-called first-line employees in the service industry and for job-oriented jobs. At the end of last year, Microsoft announced a new foldable smartphone that runs on Android. However, the new service will be launched with Samsung, which has a huge handset business and previously released a tablet for mobile workers.

The 6.3-inch Galaxy XCover Pro has a removable battery and can withstand drops from a height of up to 1.5 meters. Taher Behbehani, head of Samsung Electronics America's mobile business-to-business department, said the device is robust but stylish. It runs with the Knox security software for Android and Samsung.

The push-to-talk button on the phone initiates a call immediately. If the person on the other end does not have the device, there is a button in the team app that can be used to start the chat. According to Behbehani, Samsung has designed the physical buttons so that they can be customized and do not have to be used for teams.

A long time ago, Microsoft had big ambitions in terms of mobile hardware and in 2013 acquired the device and service business from Nokia. The company reduced the volume, charged billions in fees and sold the mobile phone business. The development of new functions for Windows 10 Mobile has been discontinued.

Microsoft and Samsung announced in August that Samsung devices would get new integrations with Microsoft services like Outlook.

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