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Motorola is to use Sega Dreamcast technology in a new generation of mobile phones to be launched next year, say Japanese reports. According to the financial daily Nihon Keizai Shimbun, the two companies are due to announce an alliance later today (Monday).

Sega has ambitions to pitch the Dreamcast as an online gaming machine, but so far hasn't hit the mark with this. The company is also facing the wreck of an alliance with Microsoft, which has decided to go play with its own X-box instead; but depending on what the two companies come up with, the Motorola deal could be a winner.

Mobile phone manufacturers are currently bullish about the gaming possibilities of their handsets, pointing out hopefully that these things are connected all the time, and that considering the vast number of phones out there, far vaster than the number of PCs or games consoles, games developers will beat a path to their doors.

The snagette, of course, is that any games developer with at least some vestige of self respect will take a look at what current mobile phones are capable of, and scurry off back to the Sonys and Segas of this world. There's a self-preservation aspect to it as well, of course - how much expensive talent does it take to write Snake for a Nokia 7110? Quite.

The mobile phone outfits have yet to demonstrate that they have a grasp of what it takes to build a successful games machine and the associated software support. But by dealing with Sega, maybe Motorola is indicating it's getting to first base. Sony of course cheats, because it's got its own mobile phone and games operations.

Next question: how high spec can you make mobile phone hardware without trashing battery life and pricing yourself out of the market? Probably not very, as Motorola is reported to be intending to make widespread use of whatever it's getting from Sega. Tricky question: well then, will people go for subsidised/free games phones, then cough up rent for online games played via them? Pre-paid cards might work... ®

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