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AOL Time Warner has joined the Symbian partner program, which it says will help it contribute its content catalog, along with AOL and ICQ messaging, and T9 text input, to Symbian-based phones.

"We can more easily and effectively deploy a broad range of media and entertainment content to Symbian licensees who manufacture over 75 per cent of the world's mobile phones sold today," the company said in a statement.

That doesn't mean Symbian will be in 75 per cent of phones sold tomorrow, of course.

But Nokia has said that 40 per cent of its phones will be running SymbianOS in a couple of years, which combined with interest from SonyEricsson, the Japanese and, most recently ,Samsung, ought at least to create an ecosystem of sorts.

AOL Time Warner is simply following the volume market.

With the PDA market shriveling, the mass market for handheld devices is naturally taking its place as where content providers want to flog their content, on handsets.

Three years ago Handspring concluded that the PDA market would die too, and bet the company on converged devices. Its Treo successor is due late summer, and will be watched with interest.

AOL's content play is crude, but it's not altogether awful. However, much depends on how aware the media behemoth is of its assets.

For example, AOL Time Warner owns Atlantic's awesome blues and jazz catalog, and in the bargain bins you can find a Roland Kirk album that's been condemned to hell by jazz snobs, called "Volunteered Slavery". Half of it is indeed a disaster, but gems of astonishing wonder stand out: a delirious gospel number called "Spirits Up Above" and one called "One Ton" which Kirk introduces as "One Ton - and it doesn't get any lighter."

What are the chances that any of AOL Time Warner's management even know that this exists? Never mind the value of this asset. ®

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