Mobile communications giant Nokia is to work together with electronics specialist Sony to create a set of open standards for interoperability between third-generation (3G) mobile devices and boost demand for 3G services.
Telecoms analysts welcomed the news but warned that standards collaborations often fall into confusion.
Speaking at Comdex Fall in Las Vegas, Nokia chief executive Jorma Ollila announced the partnership aimed at developing standards for content downloads, user interfaces, digital rights management and messaging services.
Ollila predicted a future in which many types of devices will work together exchanging data and content in a seamless and interoperable way. "This is a task which requires broad and open interoperability between devices from many manufacturers," he said.
Operators backing the initiative include AT&T Wireless, Vodafone, NTT DoCoMo and mmO2. Handset manufacturers Siemens, Fujitsu and Samsung have also expressed their support.
Companies not backing the initiative include Microsoft and Qualcomm, both of which share a tradition of favouring proprietary technologies.
3G will offer its customers services beyond pure voice, Ollila said, and to achieve this an interoperable service architecture is essential.
Analysts said that the collaboration will probably establish the W-CDMA open standard as the dominant 3G standard, which will benefit European carriers and accelerate 3G applications development.
"Standardisation will give developers a clearer idea of what they are aiming for and will, as a consequence, speed up the development of applications," explained Amrish Kacker, senior consultant at telecoms market watcher Analysys. "At the moment, no one knows what the killer application will be and what will and won't attract user attention."
But Kacker added a note of caution. "Initiatives always come with new technologies and come up with plenty of new ideas and logic, and often collapse in a wave of confusion," he warned.
NTT DoCoMo launched the world's first limited area 3G network in Tokyo last month, but UK mobile users will not see 3G handsets and services arrive until 2003 at the earliest.
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