Nokia, Preminet and Brew

The Register writes:

Java has suffered as a mobile content platform, compared to Qualcomm Brew, by having a fragmented channel and a confused economic proposition for developers. Nokia aims to change that with its new Preminet aggregation, download and billing framework. Although operators can brand the service themselves, reflecting the shift away from handset branding, in the longer term Nokia could sideline them by accelerating the creation of open IP portals. Nokia aims to stay out of the battle of content branding and ensure that it controls the underlying software and relationships, giving it the critical position whatever trends drive mobile applications in future.

Despite the rapid growth of mobile Java and the strengths of the industry forces ranged behind it, Qualcomm’s Brew platform has clung on stubbornly in the hearts and minds of carriers and content developers. Brew may have had to adapt to Java’s presence (and will run on Java platforms now), but it has not been crushed by the Sun-driven technology. Of course, Qualcomm has made a business of standing against the industry standard with its own technology, but Brew does have some genuine advantages over Java, which Nokia is now seeking to neutralize with the creation of, in effect, the first real ecosystem for J2ME. In so doing, it could achieve a huge level of control over how mobile content is handled, and further its goal of gaining power through software.

If Preminet becomes the main framework for J2ME content download, and therefore the dominant one on the whole GSM/GPRS/3G system, it gives Nokia a hugely powerful position in the cellular market. It is one that fits perfectly with its recent goal of gaining influence and revenue through software, taking the Microsoft approach of providing the guts of a system and making itself indispensable, thus making concessions on handset design less painful.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.