The Mobile Lowdown 05-10-11: Windows Phone; Italy Mobile Payments; Nuance

Our look at some of the stories in mobile today: Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) to give a preview of the next Windows Phone later this month (Skype included, we wonder?); Italian operators take the initiative on mobile payments (and this time, it’s not about NFC); more on that Nuance and Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) report.

Windows Phone: Neither Microsoft nor Skype are commenting on the many reports saying that they are about to tie up, but one area where a Skype buy could make lots of sense is in mobile, an area that Microsoft’s been chipping away at for many a year, with mixed success. One area where Microsoft is most determined at the moment is its Windows Phone operating system.

Most notably, it’s tied up with Nokia to make it the handset maker’s main OS for its future smartphones — but those won’t be on the market until, apparently, the very end of this year at the very earliest. In the meantime, Microsoft is getting ready to show off its newest version of the OS, in a press conference in New York and London on May 24. It’s been talking up the OS for months now — putting out details of its new location features and other enhancements — and we will be there to see it in action first hand.

Mobile-payments, Italian style: Sometimes it seems like the whole mobile payments agenda has become synonymous with NFC technology. Yes, that might definitely be one way ahead, if NFC ever goes beyond the talk-and-trial phase into large-scale deployments. But given that this might take years to happen, it’s no surprise to hear that a group of operators in Italy are getting together to try something else out. Telecom Italia, Vodafone (NYSE: VOD) Italy, Wind, 3 Italia, PosteMobile, and Fastweb are launching a service for people to pay for goods and services online using mobile devices, specifically a user’s mobile number.

Dow Jones reports that if the purchase is made on the device, it can be processed with a single click; on PCs and tablets, users will also need a password.

The idea here is to tackle an uptapped market. A lot of Italians do not use credit cards — more than 90 percent of all transactions are settled in cash; compared to less than 70 percent in the rest of Europe — but they love their mobile phones. This will give them another option to pay for things. One caveat: have been many attempts at cross-operator mobile payments services before that have amounted to very little.

The service will use a common payment platform and is similar to the “Buystar” cross-operator payment initiative in France.

Nuance: More on this alleged deal between the speech recognition company and Apple. Apple is apparently already putting Nuance’s technology into its new North Carolina data centre, adding to speculation that it will indeed be a part of the company’s cloud services, and will get announced at the WWDC conference in June (via TechCrunch).