Marketing Windows Mobile to the world (sorry, tech bubble)

It’s easy to forget sometimes (especially living 40 miles from Redmond, like I do) that the whole world doesn’t work, or live, quite the way you think it would from reading Techmeme headlines.  In a number of markets Windows Live (again, especially Messenger) dominates.  An article in today’s The Nation (“Thailand’s biggest business daily”), announcing the launch of Windows Live on mobile in Thailand (and news of “plans to kick off lucrative mobile advertising services” in the second half of the year), offers up some telling numbers:

Nearly two-thirds of Thailand’s Internet users – 9 million out of the 15-million total – are users of Windows Live, spending a cumulative 2.4 billion minutes online with MSN messenger.

This large online community has provided significant revenue for Microsoft from online advertising. The jump from the PC environment to mobile phones offers much bigger market opportunities for generating online revenue. Penetration of mobile phones in Thailand is about 86 per cent of the population, with 65 million mobile devices in use around the country.

Microsoft’s strategy is to convert these subscribers to Windows Live and MSN services without the need for a personal computer. It pursues a phenomenon called "mobile first user", in which people are gaining their first experience of the Internet on mobile phones, rather than personal computers.

The phenomenon will soon be dominant in emerging countries like Thailand, where the mobile penetration rate is higher than that of personal computers, according to the marketing director in Southeast Asia for Microsoft’s Online Services Group, Craig Law-Smith.

Thailand has the third-largest number of Windows Live users in Asia following China and Taiwan. Thailand is also in the top ten countries in the world for data usage on mobile phones through General Packet Radio Services (GPRS) connections.

Of course the world of Windows Live extends farther than just Thailand.  Somewhat buried in today’s announcements coming from MWC were a number of press releases announcing significant Windows Live partnerships, just not ones that effect San Jose or New York:

Microsoft and Gemalto Partner to Bring Windows Live Messenger to the Mass Market of Mobile Subscribers
Customers can keep in touch with friends and communities on the go through any handset that allows SIM cards.
BARCELONA, Spain, Feb. 16 – Microsoft Corp. and Gemalto today announced they are collaborating to offer Windows Live Messenger services to the mass market of mobile subscribers through a new Windows Live Messenger client application that comes pre-installed on phone Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards. The Gemalto application, named SIMessenger, is the world’s first Microsoft-certified instant messaging SIM client solution.

Microsoft and Orascom Telecom to Distribute Windows Live Mobile Services
New alliance extends Windows Live experience to mobile customers in new territories.
BARCELONA, Spain, Feb. 16 – Today at Mobile World Congress 2009, Orascom Telecom Holding S.A.E. and Microsoft Corp. announced a new alliance enabling them to distribute Windows Live Hotmail and Windows Live Messenger on mobile phones in Orascom Telecom’s key markets. The services will be introduced to customers in a phased rollout through Orascom’s affiliate partners.

Microsoft and America Movil to Extend Windows Live Mobile Services Across Latin America
Regional agreement will provide comprehensive suite of Windows Live, MSN and Live Search to 17 countries including Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and Colombia.
BARCELONA, Spain, Feb. 16 – Today at Mobile World Congress 2009, Microsoft Corp. and America Movil, the leading provider of wireless services in Latin America, announced that America Movil will adopt and deploy a comprehensive suite of Windows Live mobile services to its 172 million customers. Windows Live has a strong customer base in Latin America with millions of customers using the services on their PC, including the leading instant messaging and e-mail offerings in the region. Through this deal, America Movil will make it easier for its customers to extend the Windows Live and MSN experience from the PC to their mobile phone through its mobile Internet browser, text messages and client-based applications.

Microsoft and Personal Provide Windows Live Services to All Personal Customers
Launch of new service will provide consumers with easy access to Windows Live offerings through their mobile phone.
BARCELONA, Spain, Feb. 16 – Microsoft Corp. and Personal S.A., a leading mobile operator in Argentina and Paraguay, announced the recent launch of SIMessenger to Personal’s customer base of 14.5 million people.

Telefonica and Microsoft Extend Reach of Windows Live Services to Millions of Mobile Customers in Latin America
Extension of regional agreement delivers new ways for customers to connect to Windows Live.
BARCELONA, Spain, Feb. 16 – Extending the strategic alliance that was first announced last year, Telefonica and Microsoft Corp. today announced that the companies are deploying a range of Windows Live for Mobile client application services that offer an enhanced experience for their mutual customers on their mobile devices. Telefonica, one of the leading mobile operators in Latin America with more than 100 million customers in Latin America, will enable its customers to download a Java-based client application that gives them access to Windows Live Hotmail, Windows Live Messenger and Windows Live Spaces to communicate and share with the people they care about from their mobile phone. The announcement was made at Mobile World Congress 2009.

Microsoft appears poised to leverage its dominant position with Windows Live Messenger in many markets around the world and extend them into much more lucrative Windows Phone and mobile phone services.  Whether or not that will work its way back to the US (or even if that will matter much) remains to be seen.