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12/31/2007
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Mobile Video, Open Platforms To Shape Future Cell Phones

Analysts with MultiMedia Intelligence see a rise of new class of mobile devices -- those that are application-centric and also contain voice functionality.

The evolution of mobile devices to an open platform and the movement of Internet video into the mainstream are this year's two macro trends that will have the greatest impact in the future, according to a report released on Monday by MultiMedia Intelligence.

This year marked a new transition of mobile devices into open platforms. Although it's known for being a closed platform when it comes to allowing third-party applications, Apple's iPhone started a new dynamic, and Google's Android platform and a possible Java-based operating system are the next phase, MultiMedia Intelligence said in the report.

Another important development rounding out the macro trends of 2007 is Motorola's recent investment in UIQ, a software platform based on the Symbian OS. In October, Motorola bought 50% of Sony Ericsson's stake in UIQ, which is also the platform behind Sony Ericsson's touch-screen smartphones. This means touch screens are likely to become a major focus for the phone maker.

"2008 will see a heightened battle for control of the platforms and business models. Companies like Nokia and Apple will pull at the operators, trying to capture data, content and application revenue for themselves. Open platforms like Android will drive the mobile network to open up like the Internet," said Frank Dickson, chief research officer at MultiMedia Intelligence, in a statement.

MultiMedia Intelligence sees a rise of new class of mobile devices -- those that are application-centric and also contain voice functionality. The devices come with Internet browsers, music players, various messaging capabilities (text and e-mail), and they're capable of making voice calls. Over the past year, major phone makers including Nokia, Motorola, Samsung, HTC, Sony Ericsson, and several others have been launching these devices on a monthly, and often weekly, basis.

Some carriers in the United States are responding to the influx of multifunctional mobile devices by opening up their networks. Verizon Wireless is one such carrier, having shocked the wireless industry by promising to open up its nationwide cellular network to outside mobile devices, software, and applications starting next year.

The report also noted that advertising is becoming the primary method for Internet video to make money, as media companies take content and TV network programming mainstream on the Internet. According to MultiMedia Intelligence, Internet video advertising will reach $1.6 billion next year, making up a larger share of the $24 billion in total U.S. Internet advertising.

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