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Qualcomm Sings Opera for M-Commerce

Wireless giant Qualcomm wants to get personal with mobile shoppers.

The San Diego-based firm has sought the help of alternative Web browser maker Opera Software to offer contextual shopping on BREW-enabled handsets. Financial terms of the deal were not announced.

For example, if a BREW-enabled phone searches for an update on the latest basketball scores, Opera's Mobile Web Browser could offer the user a clickable link to a retailer selling a basketball video game or other basketball related mobile applications. Qualcomm has a content contract with other Web browser vendors like Microsoft, but not one that uses recommended shopping links.

Contextual paid listings are the bread and butter for the search industry. Applications like Google's AdSense and Sprinks.com use enhanced targeting capabilities and powerful new bidding and analysis tools to raise the value of search as a promotional channel. Opera, whose free browser offers up advertisements on the desktop, is looking to bring the lucrative contextual advertising market to the handset.

"This functionality enables new features that support a wide range of premium BREW-based applications and content that will be presented to end users based upon their real-time usage, allowing a more personalized wireless experience for BREW subscribers," Gina Lombardi, senior vice president of marketing at Qualcomm, said in a statement.

Qualcomm and Oslo, Norway-based Opera said contextual shopping features can be added for pennies on the dollar by operators supporting BREW, because the technology uses the operator's existing network infrastructure and components. The technology will be marketed to handset manufacturers like Sony Ericsson, Nokia, Siemens and Sendo X, as well as CDMA operators like KDDI in Japan, KTF in South Korea and Verizon Wireless in the United States.

Additionally, the BREW Distribution System (BDS) lets operators install the platform in their back-end billing systems and application management environments. Qualcomm said the cost savings are enough to spur flexible billing and competitive pricing options.

Qualcomm and Opera said the technology should start appearing in handsets and on mobile plans starting next year.

"We've had a great experience delivering the Opera browser for the BREW platform with KDDI in Japan," Opera CEO Jon von Tetzchner said in a statement. "We expect that the Opera browser will not only provide new opportunities for BREW operators, users and content providers, but it will further promote the adoption of mobile Web capabilities and the importance of mobile Web browsing technology."