Microsoft and Nokia Announce Music Partnership

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Microsoft and Nokia, historically stiff competitors, have announced a music-distribution partnership. Starting immediately, telecom firms and online music distributors can sell music that will play on Nokia handsets.

The Microsoft-Nokia partnership is in part a declaration of fealty by Nokia to Microsoftis Windows Media format. Nokia, the worldis largest cellphone maker, has already sold 10 million music-enabled phones, and the company plans to have more than half of its product line music-enabled by the end of 2005. But Microsoft has also agreed to support the Open Mobile Alliance (OMA) standards on digital media rights. The OMA, a Seattle-based standards organization has outlined only basic features of digital rights management (DRM) software, such as copy protection and the ability to preview media, but has not announced support for a particular DRM.

Nokia and Microsoft have competed in several markets in the past. Microsoft has long been tried to work it way into the mobile phone market by supplying the software for high end "smartphones." Nokia has refused to use Microsoft software, fearing lock-in and the high royalties PC manufactures pay in order to bundle Windows on their computers. As a result, this announcement marks a departure Nokia, but not for Microsoft.

The partnership was announced today at the 3GSM World Congress in Cannes, France. Earlier today we carried an announcement of the European partnership between Apple and Teleca. Both of these announcements mirror the Apple-Motorola partnership in the US.

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