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Nokia Unveils Smartphone Platform Upgrade

Nokia had a busy first day at the 3GSM mobile communications trade show in Cannes, France, making several moves that could increase the company's position in the cell phone industry.

For starters, the Finland-based cell phone maker introduced the latest version of its Series 60 platform that it says will enable manufacturers to create smartphones for a range of users, from consumers to enterprise users.

"The Series 60 3rd Edition significantly enforces our strategy to support smartphone evolution towards different segments of the consumer mass market and enterprise," Antti Vasara, vice president of Nokia's mobile software sales and marketing division, said in a statement.

Vasara also said the company will ship 20 million of the devices, which run on the Symbian operating system, by the end of February, and make them available to licensees in mid-2005. The company estimates that the global smartphone market will skyrocket this year, exceeding 50 million units in 2005.

"There will be a clear move towards multiple device segments where different user and market needs will drive the development. Enterprise and business or imaging, music, video and games focused smartphones require a robust, configurable software platform with a comprehensive number of new features," Vasara said.

The phone platform comes with a new music player, digital rights management, USB mass memory storage and high-quality multimedia rendering.

Nokia also announced a deal with Microsoft that will pave the way for subscribers to purchase digital music online and play it back on handsets.

The company will use Redmond's music player software in the handsets. The agreement also called for a third party arrangement with digital media company Loudeye.

"This agreement makes it easier for consumers to download music they want to listen to, without having to worry about whether or not the file format is supported," Vasara said.

The company also earlier announced a deal with Macromedia to license the company's Flash technology for the phones.

"This co-operation will also address the requirements of the operators who have developed solutions using Flash. The availability of rich Flash content and applications will help drive the adoption of smart phones," Vasara said.