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Nokia, IBM Team on Wireless Software

Wireless phone maker and IBM are joining forces to co-market software and products that deliver rich media content to cell phones and devices beyond today's simple text messages and voice calls.

In the process, the two companies hope to position their products as hallmarks for open standards and platform interoperability ahead of new generations of wireless networks built for downloading rich media content such as large audio and video files.

Under the agreement, IBM agreed to co-market Nokia's delivery server software for downloading mobile content onto cell phones. The companies said the Nokia software will be offered to customers along with IBM's digital media factory framework, a platform to create, store, manage and distribute digital content across wireless networks.

Built on programming variants of Sun's Java, the offerings are aimed at helping to speed the downloading of Java-based mobile games, polyphonic MIDI ring tones, digital images, graphics, screen savers and icons.

They call the new marketing effort Digital Media for Mobile Devices (DM Mobile). The pitch to customers is a one-stop shopping platform for managing, delivering and protecting the content's secure transmission as wireless content grows more advanced.

Pertti Korhonen, executive vice president of Nokia's mobile software group, said it made sense that the largest cell phone company and largest computing company would team up to develop architecture that not only protects content and provides digital rights management, but also does so on open standards.

Dick Anderson, general manager of IBM's digital media group, said the alliance would enable new and exciting applications for a new generation of advanced mobile devices coming on to market. "This agreement pulls together the critical components necessary to support the secure delivery of content" to those networks, he said in a statement.

Nokia and IBM are also members of the Open Mobile Alliance, a consortium of companies working together to help advance the mobile industry and promote interoperability on wireless networks.

The principles of the alliance include a commitment to global standards and protocols not locked in to proprietary technologies. As such, members agree that applications they design for mobile devices be "bearer agnostic" and recognize network protocols such as GSM , GPRS , EDGE , CDMA and UMTS . An IBM spokesperson said the two companies would be submitting open standard specifications on their joint offerings to the OMA.

Nokia will also integrate with IBM's open standards platform built around its WebSphere line of software and products. In addition, Nokia's content delivery server software is expected to be offered to customers as part of IBM's line of Linux-based xSeries servers. The new alliance will be co-marketed through IBM's global services division.