By Keith Dyer at 3GSM World Congress
Nokia gave one of the strongest indications yet of where the real power now lies in the industry, when ceo Jorma Ollila confirmed that Nokia would be producing handsets that complied with Vodafone Live!
When Vodafone launched 2.5G Vodafone Live! Services Nokia handsets were conspicuous by their absence. The reason? It was said that Nokia didn’t like the idea of its phones going out carrying too much Vodafone branding and, more importantly, carrying the Vodafone Live! user interface.
Yet, at a joint press conference at the 3GSM World Congress, Arun Sarin, Vodafone ceo, confirmed that Nokia had now committed to providing 3G handsets that were “completely compliant” with Vodafone Live!
Both men were canny on the reasons for the turnaround. But with Ollila graciously conceding the success of Vodafone Live!, it seemed as if Sarin was too polite to point out that, certainly in terms of the UI, it was Nokia that had come to him, not the other way round.
Nokia is proud of its own user interface, and credits it as one of the main reasons for its dominance in the handset market. So, for it to comply to Vodafone’s requirements is a considerable change of attitude, and also of engineering. Ollila did talk of the importance of “co-branding in the 3G world”, so it will be interesting to see how the handsets are developed in the coming months.
Ollila also outlined Nokia’s other main concerns for the year which were; push-to-talk, ever-more enterprise integration and multi-media services. Prime among the multimedia services was Visual Radio, which is Nokia’s plan to put digital radio services onto handsets. On the enterprise side Nokia announced an alliance with IBM to further mobilize business applications. And on voice, Nokia also claimed to have, in its 5140, the “first GSM push-to- talk” handset.