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Mobile

Microsoft, Nokia aim for mobile domain

The two rivals form a venture with a handful of other companies to distribute Web addresses for mobile devices. Does the move signal a detente between the cell phone OS opponents?

Microsoft and Nokia, along with a group of key computer companies and cell phone service providers, have formed a joint venture to distribute domains names for mobile devices.

The venture aims to create a widely recognized mobile Web site naming system to simplify Internet access by cell phone customers. For instance, the system would give people a better idea of what Web address to enter in their cell phones, executives of the venture said Wednesday.

Approval of the venture hinges on ICANN's (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) acceptance of an additional domain to the Web's navigation system. The Internet address administrator approves so-called top-level domains such as .com, .org and .net.

The group believes it can help fuel interest in cell phone Internet services, which carriers are relying on to find new revenue sources, by making the mobile Web easier to navigate.

"With a new mobile top-level domain, there will be a natural approach to navigating," a Microsoft executive said.

The effort could mark the beginning of a detente between Microsoft and Nokia, two longtime rivals in the cell phone operating system market. In the next few years, Microsoft's Smartphone software is expected to be the chief rival to Symbian, an operating system for advanced cell phones that has financial backing from Nokia.

The venture also involves Hewlett-Packard, Sun Microsystems, Samsung, Vodafone and European cell phone service providers 3 and Orange.

One of the chief complaints wireless subscribers have about their cell phone's Internet connection is that there is no uniform way to find a Web page designed for the limited processing abilities of their handhelds, analysts say. That's confined users of the mobile Internet to mostly sending text messages.

The venture plans to submit its ICANN application, suggesting several new domain names, on Monday, which will be followed by a three- to six-month review process. The newly formed venture expects to be distributing Web addresses by next year.