Microsoft Rivals Line Up for Mobile Software

RealNetworks and Ericsson Wednesday inked a deal to bundle Real’s multimedia software into Ericsson’s new
generation of mobile phones.

The move is thought to combat Microsoft’s growing place in the global cell
phone market for multimedia software and devices that will play music,
enable video and run a variety of other applications.

Several other announcements were made at the 3GSM World Congress in Cannes,
France that point to Microsoft’s rivals aligning together against the
software giant. Nokia Corp. said it is working with Oracle
Corp. to co-develop mobile e-mail applications.

Separately, IBM Corp. said it is working with several
mobile handset manufacturers, including Nokia and Sony Ericsson Mobile
Communications, and Samsung Electronics Co. said it is investing in
Symbian PLC to the tune of a 5 percent stake in the mobile software
consortium, which is competing with Microsoft. Some Samsung phones already
run Microsoft software, and the move to join Symbian may be step towards it
diversifying its interests away from Microsoft.

The RealNetworks deal with Ericsson will combine Real’s Helix audio and
video broadcasting software with Ericsson’s multimedia software products,
which will work with a variety of different wireless service providers.
Real’s Helix will work with Ericsson’s Content Delivery Solution and be able
to stream audio and video content across both 2.5 and 3G networks in every
major 3GPP-compliant format, including MPEG-4, in addition to RealAudio and
RealVideo.

Nokia, Ericsson and other mobile phone manufacturers are not interested in
seeing Microsoft dominate the mobile market, the way they have colonized the
personal computer software market.

Nokia, at the conference in Cannes, France, said Tuesday it will deliver a
new generation of mobile phones by July of 2003 in effort to bring products
to market that compete with Microsoft.

Nokia said it has begun testing close to 10,000 3G handsets with Vodafone
Group PLC and Orange, as well as equipment makers Ericsson and Nortel. Nokia
is competing with the likes of NEC of Japan and Motorola
to bring a new generation of 3G phones capable of delivering advanced
services.

But while mobile handset makers are racing to deliver the most marketable 3G
phones, there are questions when consumers in Europe, Asia and North America
will actually arrive.

One of the driving forces for Nokia, Ericsson and other mobile handset
vendors is the realization that Microsoft is now moving into the handset
business. Microsoft’s move into making phones and minature mobile computing
devices is driving several wireless handset vendors together.

Nokia, for its part, believes alliances with IBM and Oracle will make it
more competitive against Microsoft. Nokia says it expect to sell 10 million
high-end mobile handsets, built on the advanced series 60 software this
year.

Mobile handset manufacturers are in a difficult position, as it is still
unclear exactly when wireless carriers will deploy 3G networks. Indications
are it will be slower, than originally expected, but there are several
companies with aggressive 3G strategies, including Japanese vendor NTT
DoCoMo.

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