Nokia, IBM strike content management deal for mobiles

And Nokia gets access to that nice IBM DRM IP...

ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

Mobile technology vendor Nokia Corp has teamed up with computer systems and services giant IBM Corp to supply content management products to mobile network operators. This deal could be seen as one of the first fruits of last month's announcement of a super standards body, the Open Mobile Alliance (OMA).

The two companies intend to extend the partnership further with future iterations of the products, and work together on the standards for mobile digital rights management, an area seen as critical for making next-generation mobile services a market reality.

Nokia will bundle the Nokia Delivery Server product into IBM's Digital Media Factory, and continue to develop the product alongside IBM. This will enable IBM's sales force to go out and sell a product to mobile operators that will enable them to deliver Java-based games, ring tones, digital images, graphics, screen savers and icons from a single server to mobile customers.

IBM will sell Nokia's product as part of its Digital Media Factory offering that includes a mixture of products and services to customers that need integrated content management systems for the distribution of digital content and media. The product range includes IBM's Content Manager software, the DB2 database, and the WebSphere Commerce server for Digital Media.

The product is designed to run on IBM eServers running the Linux operating system. Nokia currently uses Sun Microsystems Inc's servers, the Solaris operating system, and BEA Systems Inc's WebLogic server as the components that power the Nokia Delivery Server. However, Nokia will port the delivery server to Linux, and add support for IBM's WebSphere-based framework for mobile operators, the service provider delivery environment.

This means that the agreement between the two companies could just be the first of many. Nokia needs the expertise of IBM's Global Services Division. It cannot control the market for the server-based middleware and database software that is needed to deliver much of the content and services on next-generation mobile networks. For this reason Nokia has agreed to give IBM access to its customers to sell the Digital Media Framework, and Nokia will continue to develop the mobile section of the Digital Media Factory.

However, Nokia will get more from this agreement than just sales of a server product. The company is also partnering to get access to some very important assets. IBM holds some of the key patents on digital rights management technologies, and has perhaps the best experience in designing Java-based digital rights management systems.

The two companies claim to have a similar vision for how these systems will be developed. Although mobile industry standard-setter Nokia has yet to make any substantial moves on defining the technology needed, one of the early promises of the OMA was to make digital rights management one of the first technology areas to try, and to push a new, open, interoperable standards framework to the industry.

If IBM and Nokia succeed, it will make the delivery of digital content to mobile devices far more attractive to content providers and mobile operators. Efforts to make digital rights management a key part of the internet infrastructure have failed spectacularly, both generally and especially with the rise of the peer-to-peer file trading networks. If the two companies can build working versions of these systems, content providers could rush to move their content on to mobile networks.

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