Helsinki: Mobile phone giant Nokia will start to use Microsoft’s copy protection software to boost the use of wireless entertainment, like music and videos, the two firms said on Monday (6 August).
The world’s largest cellphone maker Nokia will licence Microsoft’s PlayReady digital rights management (DRM) technology, and build it into its S60 software, the most widely used software platform in cellphone industry.
Microsoft’s technology allows people to share protected pieces of content -- like music, games or videos -- between mobile phones, PCs and other devices.
Nokia’s S60 software is used extensively in Nokia’s line-up, but also in advanced cellphones of LG Electronics and Samsung Electronics.
Its closest rival is Microsoft’s own Windows Mobile.
In 2005 the two firms signed their first co-operation agreement to take Windows Media player on to Nokia phones, raising many eyebrows as the two had been fierce competitors in the mobile software industry.
As cellphone prices decline, handset vendors are looking for new revenues from potentially lucrative software operations, while at the same time Microsoft is looking for new revenues from the mobile space.
In June Nokia said it would reshape its whole organisation to better focus on software and services.
Nokia said it expects many S60 and its lower-tier Series 40 phones, which are also included in the deal, using PlayReady technology to hit the market in 2008.
$20 billion industry
The companies said they expect the deal to widen the entertainment offering on cellphones.
Entertainment services -- games, music, TV, adult content and gambling -- would grow to $38 billion by 2011 from around $18.8 billion in 2006, according to research firm Informa.
Music has been the main driver for mobile entertainment so far, but new boost to the market is expected from breakthrough of mobile television broadcasts.
“Can it get better and move to the mainstream: absolutely,” Chadd Knowlton, general manager for content access and protection at Microsoft, told Reuters.
“Mobile television, that’s going to be much more mainstream thing than today’s entertainment features,” Knowlton said.
Microsoft and Nokia said they would also work together to enhance and simplify consumer access to digital content using mobile devices.
Nokia is widely expected to launch an online music and mobile content store, a rival to Apple’s iTunes, in coming months, using technology gained from last year’s acquisition of US digital music distributor Loudeye.
Sebastian Nystrom, a director at Nokia’s technology unit, declined to comment on the possible impact the Microsoft deal could have on services built on the Loudeye acquisition, but said: “PlayReady will be the key component in offering such services to consumers.”