RealTime IT News

Philips Will Help Push Windows Mobile 5.0

Electronics giant Philips Electronics is putting its muscle into a long-term deal with Microsoft to support Windows multimedia technology in its chips.

As part of a nonexclusive agreement the two launched today, Philips' Nexperia semiconductors will include support for Windows Media Audio and Video as well as Windows Digital Rights Management (DRM) 10.

For Microsoft, the deal gives the company a chance to further extend its reach past the PC and into devices following the launch of Windows Mobile 5.0, its operating system platform for smart phones and Pocket PCs.

With the support of Philips, users can properly view audio and video content produced in a Windows Media format. The Nexperia chip already supports MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 for video and MP3 audio formats, in addition to other advanced application formats like Java 2, Mobile Edition (J2ME), Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS).

The Netherlands-based company expects to continue adding multimedia support for its devices as part of its Connected Planet initiative to deliver content anywhere and anytime regardless of the format.

The Nexperia family of multimedia semiconductors is used in a variety of consumer electronics (CE) devices. Philips will include Windows media format support in its personal video recorders, portal audio players, IP set-top boxes, digital media receivers and video phones, with support for in-car entertainment and digital TV systems to follow later this year.

Philips will include the format to its Streamium and Mobile Infotainment products later this month. It's the first major update to the platform since the March 2004 release of a second edition to Windows Mobile 2003.

In the past five years, there's been a profound shift in the kind of data and services people access on their mobile devices -- from multimedia to business applications, Microsoft's Chairman Bill Gates said. "Windows Mobile 5.0 enables our industry partners to develop exciting new hardware designs and solutions that will revolutionize how customers use mobile devices."

In the smart mobile device market, Microsoft is a distant second in market share to the Symbian operating system in the number of shipments, according to a recent study by market research firm Canalys. According to the report, the Microsoft OS shipped on nearly two million mobile devices in the first quarter of 2005 compared to the 6.6 million devices using Symbian. In market share terms, Symbian holds a commanding lead with 61.4 percent to Microsoft's 18.3 percent.

Officials say their mobile platform is gaining in popularity, citing revenue growth of 31 percent from 2003 to 2004 with phone license sales more than doubling in that time frame. They further point out Mobile-based adoption by manufacturers has grown from three hardware partners five years ago to 40 today.

"Windows Mobile 5.0 is an important evolutionary step for the Windows Mobile platform, which continues to gain traction worldwide," John Jackson, Yankee Group senior analyst, said in a statement.

Microsoft's latest mobile OS is a bid to gain an edge on Symbian's dominance in the industry. Windows Mobile 5.0 comes with a bevy of enhancements officials hope will woo device makers and mobile operators to their platform.

The Redmond giant added support for QWERTY-based keyboards in this latest edition and "push-to-talk" technology. Also included was Office software for traveling workers, featuring mobile versions of Excel and PowerPoint that retain the formatting of documents created on the PC, though the PowerPoint Mobile application only allows for viewing presentations, not creating or editing them like the Excel Mobile.

For the consumer set Windows included Media Player 10 Mobile on the new platform and a new pictures and video application.

The company beefed up its networking technology with support for higher-bandwidth 3G networks and Wi-Fi on the smart phone platform, as well as improvements to its Bluetooth support. Also added to the platform is persistent memory storage in the event the device loses its battery power.

"By supporting Windows Media technology in our designs, we're opening up additional opportunities for our customers to offer a seamless user experience from the Internet and the PC to consumer electronics devices at home and on the move," said Frans van Houten, Philips Semiconductors president and CEO, in a statement.

"As the flow of content between PCs and digital media players increases, adding this technology to the Nexperia platforms offers a simple solution to ensure that, regardless of the device on which a video is being viewed or a song being played, it looks and sounds great every time."