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This week in iPod bashing

Whatever tricks Apple pulls, Bill Gates isn't likely to be very impressed.

Whatever tricks Apple Computer pulls, Bill Gates isn't likely to be very impressed.

Microsoft's chief said in an interview published Thursday that he sees mobile phones overtaking standalone MP3 players and that he views the raging popularity of Apple's iPod player as unsustainable.

"As good as Apple may be, I don't believe the success of the iPod is sustainable in the long run," he said in an interview published in Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. "If you were to ask me which mobile device will take top place for listening to music, I'd bet on the mobile phone for sure."

Gates made similar comments in an interview with CNET earlier this week.

Gates made those comments as his company wrapped up development of Windows Mobile 5.0, its latest operating system for cell phones and handhelds. Microsoft is hoping to boost its fortunes--and grab some market share from archrival Nokia--by creating software that can more easily be customized by device makers and wireless carriers.

Microsoft points to a number of features it said will help in that regard, including support for software-based buttons that will make it easier to operate devices with one hand and without using a stylus. The new version also offers features such as improved mobile versions of Word and Excel, a viewer for PowerPoint spreadsheets, and a mobile version of Windows Media 10 that supports subscription music and viewing of recorded TV shows.

Meanwhile, cell phone giant Nokia revealed details of its television technology to help jump-start the young mobile-TV industry. The company unveiled its version of a standardized method for delivering broadcast digital TV to handsets in the United States, Europe and Asia. The standard, DVB-H, or Digital Video Broadcast-Handheld, competes with a host of other similar technologies, including Qualcomm's new MediaFlo. Companies supporting DVB-H say it's less expensive and allows a quicker product turnaround.

Nokia's move supports the wireless industry's view that there's a sizable market for mobile-TV fare, including movies, news clips and standard programming typically found on living room TVs. If the market for the content is indeed robust, such a service could generate significant new revenue streams for wireless operators.