Nokia makes push for mobile TV, widget development

Company is teaming up with other handset makers on devices and promoting new applications for surfing the mobile Net.

Nokia is taking steps to spur the adoption of services that let subscribers watch TV or surf the Web on mobile devices.

On Monday, Nokia said it plans to work with fellow handset maker Samsung to develop interoperable products based on the DVB-H (Digital Video Broadcast--Handheld) standard for mobile TV. Nokia and Motorola have also pledged to work together to build products that support DVB-H.

Handset makers, mobile operators, advertisers and TV broadcasters have viewed mobile TV as a huge opportunity. But today, several technologies used to broadcast TV to mobile handsets exist, which has fragmented the market.

In the U.S. market, Qualcomm's MediaFlo is already being adopted by the two largest operators, AT&T and Verizon Wireless. Meanwhile, in Europe, Nokia has been pushing DVB-H. The latest alliance with Samsung should help solidify the use of DVB-H in Europe for mobile broadcast TV. And Nokia said it hopes the partnership will also speed up deployment of the application.

Specifically, Nokia plans to work with Samsung to support a set of standards used for DVB-H called OMA BCAST, or Open Mobile Alliance Mobile Broadcast Services Enabler Suite. This suite, or profile of the standard, outlines ways for developing an advanced program guide, support for multiple broadcast technologies, and content and service protections using the SIM (subscriber identity module) card or digital rights management.

The purpose of the OMA BCAST specification is to help operators offer broadcast TV to mobile devices quickly and easily. It was defined and developed by the Broadcast Mobile Convergence Forum, and more than 12 major handset makers, technology developers and mobile operators already support the profile.

"Nokia warmly welcomes the collaboration in accelerating the adoption of DVB-H-based mobile TV services to the market," Harri Mannisto, director of multimedia for Nokia, said in a statement. "We see that the OMA BCAST standard is essential in launching mobile TV services on a global scale."

Nokia said it is also promoting new applications to make surfing the mobile Internet as rich an experience as searching the Net from PCs. The company said Monday that it will provide a set of tools for third-party developers for its Symbian Series 60 smart phone to create widgets for mobile phones.

Widgets, which are lightweight Web applications, have been available on PCs for a long time. For example, they've been used for collecting data on such things as weather, stock quotes, flight schedules and more.

Widgets allow Web-based applications to be used without launching a browser. They reside as small icons on desktops and can be used to access real-time information, all of which make widgets an ideal technology for cell phones. Nokia said that until now, no tools have been available for third-party developers to create widgets for smart phones. Apple's iPhone, scheduled to be released in June, is expected to use widgets.

Nokia said it will offer widget support to all S60 licensees through Web Runtime. Developers can use standards-based Web technologies--such as Ajax, JavaScript, CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) and HTML--to create new widgets or migrate existing widgets from desktop computers to mobile devices using the S60 software.

The new tools will be available as part of the S60's Third Edition Feature Pack 2, which will be available in the third quarter of 2007.

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