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Open standards and competition, Nokia says

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Comment The Nokia representatives at the World Cup media gathering called this week by Texas Instruments, wanted us to take one thing away, that the mobile TV market will be won by open standards and a competitive eco-system.

The meeting was called to use the German co-operatively built DVB-H mobile TV system as a show piece for the technology, but also as a showpiece for the model that its suppliers hope will influence the rest of Europe.

We know that Nokia wanted us to take that message away because throughout the evening Harri Mannisto, director of the Nokia multimedia division that controls mobile TV offerings, said as much as something like 20 times.

Open standards, unlike other offerings in the mobile TV space, would create competition, and competition would create a novel and innovative market place.

The fight is still going on to preserve DVB-H as the centre of all things. Mobile TV, and Nokia, with its partner Texas Instruments is still waging war on the likes of arch-rival Qualcomm with its MediaFLO, and on T-DMB, hailing mostly out of Korea.

"This is the first country where this model has been seen," said Mannisto, calling what had happened in Germany a 5:5:2 model. The reference was clearly analogous to the football World Cup where the popular 4:4:2 formation is most often used.

"In Vodafone, O2, TMobile, E-Plus and KPN we have five operators. There are five terminal vendors (of which we are one)," he added, but declined mentioning all the others, "and two system vendors".

The point was the same point. All of these companies can work together with a single standard, each proving their interoperability which means that as the market goes forward, price advances and innovation go straight into the market. The market is not held back by the lack of imagination of a single vendor.

Given that T-DMB is also recognised as a European ETSI standard, presumably this same approach could apply to T-DMB, and most of the barbs in these comments were reserved almost entirely for Qualcomm.

It is remarkable how on message the Nokia guys are about Qualcomm these days, almost as if it were the "new" enemy. So if one former CEO, Jorma Ollila always pinpointed Microsoft as the "danger" during his tenure, then perhaps Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo has expanded the enemy camp to include Qualcomm.

In his summing up as he announced the ending of the deal with Sanyo last week to make CDMA phones, Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo said one reason was the fact that the CDMA customers are a declining force and that this market was no longer to be considered a growth market, and that was the exact message that the Nokia representatives here carried with them.

So does that mean that Nokia and the Mobile DTV Alliance, the US club formed as a kind of US anti-Qualcomm mobile TV initiative a few months ago, have given up on Verizon. Is it a CDMA haven that Qualcomm can just dominate at its will?

"We have given up on nothing in the US market," says Mannisto, "but the US market is a very strange one, and we expect DVB-H to be side by side in the US market."

An analyst from Informa had said much the same thing minutes earlier, the US to be split into two between the standard and non-standard worlds of DVB-H and MediaFLO.

It is a common perception.

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