RealTime IT News

Nokia, HP 'Visualize' Mobile Radio

When Nokia introduced its Visual Radio concept in October 2003, the company had yet to announce a serious partner to power the support platform.

The demonstration showed mobile phone users receiving FM radio broadcasts synchronized with interactive visuals and text on their handsets.

Now the Finland-based cell phone maker has teamed up with HP in a backend services contract that extends their previous relationship, builds out a new Web service for mobile phones and creates a revenue sharing scheme that impacts a couple of sectors.

The two companies Tuesday outlined their agreement, which has the Palo Alto, Calif.-based computer and printer maker selling the products to mobile operators and FM radio stations. The program is scheduled to debut in Finland, U.K. and Japan and then eventually worldwide.

HP will also provide installation, consulting and integration support. In addition, HP said it would host and manage the Visual Radio service using its own platforms. For its part, Nokia said it is committing more resources to provide and continue to develop the Visual Radio technology.

The Nokia 7700 is planned for release in the second quarter of 2004 and features more than 65,000 colors on its Series 90 touch screen. The handset, which has a similar design to its N-Gage gaming platform, also offers a camera phone and supports HTML/XHTML browsing.

Nokia already has FM tuners in some of its cell phones before. But starting with its color screen 7700 series, the handset manufacturer's service lets the listener interact with promotions, purchase ring tones, buy concert tickets, and get additional content supplied by the station. The service also allows for traffic and weather reports, talk radio and sports broadcasts. Fees would either be based on minutes per data stream as part of a carrier's plan or as an add-on package, Nokia said. The company said it also plans to make the Visual Radio technology available to other handset manufacturers.

"The FM radio capabilities are based on standard tuners embedded in the handset. The Visual Radio service picks up a user's location over GPRS and is able to pinpoint which radio stations are in the area," Reidar Wasenius, Nokia senior project manager told internetnews.com.

Joy King, vice president at HP Services, echoed that HP's interest is supporting a business model that "enables our customers to capitalize on consumers' rising demand for content-rich, highly relevant services."

And as for the profits, Nokia and HP say they are willing to share part of that with service providers, operators and broadcasters. Specific breakdowns of who gets what were not disclosed. Under the plan, broadcasters increase revenue from enhanced advertising and from the sales of digital content. Service providers gain from the types of information accrued from surveys, quizzes and special offers that appear on Visual Radio-enabled handset displays. Carriers gain in increased subscription rates especially in ring-tone and phone content-crazed areas like the U.K. and Japan.

"What we are creating is a successful eco-system," King told internetnews.com. "We all see that to be successful we have to raise the average investment per the end customer."

HP and Nokia have an established connection, recently extending their three-year deal with an additional five-year contract for an estimated at $400 million.

HP's extended agreement means it becomes Nokia's IT department in a service-based model based on HP's Adaptive Enterprise strategy. In addition to managing the servers, HP will enable billing based on actual IT service consumption and different support requirements by Nokia's businesses.