New-generation cell phones introduced
By Laurence Frost
By Laurence Frost
BARCELONA, Spain — The biggest names in mobile communications unveiled new phones, services and alliances at a major trade show yesterday, jostling for a place in the fast-moving world of third-generation telephony.
Motorola Inc. announced that it is making more phones that can play songs in Microsoft Corp.'s Windows Media Audio format.
Motorola's most heavily promoted music phones have so far used Apple Computer Inc.'s iTunes software. The first one, dubbed the ROKR, attracted criticism for its slow phone-computer connection and limited 100-song memory after its launch last year. Motorola last month launched a second iTunes phone, the SLVR L7.
The Microsoft-powered phones will have a faster connection and more storage.
"Consumers want to be able to take more than 100 songs," said Erik Huggers, senior director for digital media at Microsoft.
Unlike Apple, Microsoft licenses its audio format to hardware makers and music stores. Verizon Wireless uses the technology for its V-Cast music store, which works with a number of phones, including a Motorola model. Motorola also makes phones that use the Windows Mobile operating system, which handles Windows Media files.
At the 3GSM mobile phone congress in Spain, Microsoft also trumpeted deals with operators including Vodafone Group PLC to market its Direct Push e-mail technology — designed to undercut and displace Research in Motion Ltd.'s BlackBerry — and announced that it had acquired MotionBridge, a company specializing in search services for cell phones. Microsoft declined to say how much it paid for the French firm.
But Microsoft's efforts to push Windows Mobile received a setback, as Nokia Corp. joined forces with Vodafone — the world's No. 2 cellular operator after China Mobile — to promote S60, a smartphone variant of the Symbian operating system developed by Nokia.
The deal aims to establish S60 as a "standard software platform for mobile handsets worldwide," Vodafone and Nokia said in a joint statement.
Nokia, the biggest cell-phone brand by sales, announced three new handsets including the 6136, a phone designed to switch seamlessly between cellular and wireless Internet calls. It is to be launched by Orange, France Telecom SA's mobile arm.
Nokia and Sony Ericsson announced a joint development program in the area of mobile TV — often billed as the next big thing in 3G wireless services. Major U.S. cell-phone carriers have started TV broadcasts, and trials are under way in several countries.