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Nokia, Competitors Vow Interoperability

Nokia, Sony Corporation and a host of leading wireless vendors announced two initiatives to promote interoperability among wireless devices developed by different manufacturers. Noticeably absent from the announcements was Microsoft, which has different plans with its forthcoming .NET framework.

In one announcement, Nokia and Sony said they will collaborate to develop a new middleware platform that focuses on interoperability between wireless phones and other devices developed by different manufacturers.

The two companies are competitors, particularly in the handset arena. Nokia is the largest seller of wireless phones and Sony recently established a joint venture with Ericsson to develop and manufacture phones. Neither Sony nor Ericsson have been broadly successful in the mobile phone market in the face of Nokia's growth.

In a statement released at the COMDEX Fall 2001 trade show in Las Vegas, the companies said they would work together in a number of areas including new user interfaces, implementing IPv6, digital rights management and multimedia messaging. The platform would incorporate Java technology.

"Nokia and Sony share a vision of a future in which many types of devices work together exchanging data and content in a seamless and interoperable way," said Jorma Ollila, Chairman and CEO, Nokia. "This is a task which requires broad and open interoperability between devices from many manufacturers."

The announcement comes as Microsoft is ramping up its .NET initiative to promote its version of interoperability and portability of data between the mobile and enterprise worlds. Neither Sony nor Nokia provided a timetable about when they would have products available on the jointly-developed platform.

In addition, Nokia led a star-studded consortium of major wireless players in a commitment to adhere to standards, particularly Java. This also is seen as a proactive response to Microsoft's .NET framework.

Joining Nokia were Sony Ericsson, Toshiba, Symbian, Motorola, NTT DoCoMo, Sharp, Siemens and a host of other major players. The group says it will adhere to open standards such as Wireless Application Protocol, SyncML for data synchronization as well as to Java.

A Microsoft spokesperson said that the announcements, "seems to draw a line in the sand to keep the mobile world a separate entity." By contrast, she claimed .NET is an attempt to seamlessly merge mobile and enterprise-based data.

David Haskin is managing editor of sister site, allNetDevices.