Nokia and Vodafone team up on Web services

Agreement will see Nokia's mobile Internet services platform, Ovi, appearing on Vodafone handsets.

Nokia and Vodafone have announced a deal that will see the former's mobile Net services platform cropping up on the handsets for the latter in Europe.

Under the agreement, Nokia's Ovi platform--which includes music, maps, gaming and social networking--will be introduced on handsets for Vodafone next year. Handset giant Nokia will also produce a number of devices exclusively for mobile operator Vodafone.

The new platform will offer Vodafone and Ovi services side by side, including both companies' own music stores.

When Nokia first launched Ovi, some industry watchers questioned whether the handset manufacturer would be able to sell mobile Internet services and avoid risking the ire of its operator customers, which are themselves trying to exploit such services to drive up non-SMS data revenue.

Ovum analyst John Delaney said the Vodafone deal will come as a significant boon to the platform.

"Of all the European operators, Vodafone is in the best position to be able to embrace the Ovi brand without damaging its own. Vodafone has invested heavily in building and marketing itself as a content services brand, since launching Vodafone Live in late 2002. Of all the operator portal brands launched around that time, Vodafone Live is now clearly the strongest. As a result, Vodafone is able to encompass other strong brands without the risk of putting its own brand in the shade," he said in a research note.

Vodafone has announced a series of content deals with big Internet brands in the course of the year, including agreements to put Google Maps, MySpace.com and YouTube on its mobile phones.

Vodafone is not the first operator to take on Ovi; Nokia announced a pact with Spanish operator Telefonica Moviles earlier this year.

Jo Best of ZDNet Australia reported from Sydney.

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