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Tuesday, 19 February, 2002, 13:54 GMT
Battle lines drawn over future phones
Man using a Nokia phone
Nokia: Seeking to create standards for future phones
Nokia and Microsoft are competing head on in the battle for domination of the next generation of mobile phones.

In separate announcements, both companies unveiled technology partnerships that aim to establish the basic design of future handsets.

Both companies will make the designs available to any interested company to ensure the technology they are backing is widely used.

Currently experts are putting their money on Nokia to prevail because it already has a dominant share of the handset market.

The announcements were made on the opening day of the GSM World Congress being held in Cannes from 19-22 February, and look set to influence development of the mobile phone world over the next few years.

New services and phones

Futuristic handsets that can handle multimedia, rather than just text messages, can download news and information faster and can connect easily to corporate networks are hugely important to all mobile operators.

The rapid slowdown in the numbers of new subscribers signing up for phones has widely been seen as a sign that mobile handset markets are saturated.

As a result the only way that operators can squeeze more money out of subscribers is by offering them new services and phones.

Nokia announced an alliance with Texas Instruments to create the blueprints and basic chipsets for the future phones, saying the details of the designs would be available to any and all interested handset makers.

The alliance follows on from Nokia's declaration in November last year that it would make available the designs of existing handsets information usually closely guarded.

Together the two announcements pitch Nokia in direct competition with Microsoft, which has declared its aim of cornering a significant share of the phone market for itself.

By letting anyone and everyone use its designs Nokia hopes to ensure that the majority of futuristic phones are built to its specifications.

Software for mobiles

Microsoft is adopting a similar tactic. Its alliance is also with Texas Instruments, as well as chip giant Intel.

The aim is to create the same basic specifications that others can use in their own handsets.

At the same time Microsoft also unveiled a version of its Pocket PC software suitable for handsets. Before now the Pocket PC software has appeared only on handheld computers such as Hewlett Packard's Jornado and the Compaq iPaq.

However, Nokia has a significant advantage over Microsoft in that it has millions of its handsets in use around the world already. Almost one in three of every handset sold is a Nokia phone.

By contrast Microsoft has yet to launch a single product. However, its Stinger mobile phone design is due to be launched in Europe by the end of June.

Mark Newman, editor of Global Mobile magazine.
"As Microsoft knows owning the operating system is very profitable."
See also:

20 Apr 01 | Business
Why Nokia is winning the phone war
15 Feb 01 | Business
Search for 3G revenues
25 Jan 02 | Business
Signs of hope for mobile makers
11 Jul 01 | Sci/Tech
3G talk gets cheaper
03 Oct 01 | Business
Racing to win the handheld prize
22 Nov 01 | Sci/Tech
The future of phones
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