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Nokia Looks To Turn Smartphones Into Mobile Media Platforms

Nokia this week said that it is changing its N-Gage mobile gaming platform from being just a device-centered gaming experience to include other Nokia handsets and devices, including Nokia S60 devices. Most S60 devices are smartphones of one stripe or another -- some are more consumer oriented in nature while others are clearly more targeted at professionals. The announcement
Nokia this week said that it is changing its N-Gage mobile gaming platform from being just a device-centered gaming experience to include other Nokia handsets and devices, including Nokia S60 devices. Most S60 devices are smartphones of one stripe or another -- some are more consumer oriented in nature while others are clearly more targeted at professionals. The announcement marks a transition for the N-Gage away from being just a mobile game device system to being a multi-device mobile game portal. But, more interestingly, it means Nokia is going to push games (and probably other types of consumer content) at its smartphone users, including professionals.The expansion of N-Gage away from being just a device and game line to becoming a game portal is interesting for two reasons. First, it means that Nokia is continuing its effort to become a media company. Nokia wants to step into carrier country here and offer games and other content directly to users. Nokia has been heading in this direction for a while, but the company is finally beginning to leverage its installed base of handsets to this end.

The second reason to take note is that this move shows that smartphones are not just for mobile e-mail -- they can also be entertainment platforms. Clearly this is what Apple plans to do with the iPhone. And while the wireless industry has been headed down this path for the last four years, I think 2007 could be the breakthrough year as we see wireless companies like Nokia target professionals (and not just teens) with cooler, hipper smartphones that can be used for both work and play. Think of it as the smartphone that is a little bit country and a little bit rock 'n roll. Or the smartphone as mullet.

Alright, I hear all you IT managers out there grumbling. Common. You can't ask employees to be always-on and not expect them to do things like play a mobile game or listen to music occasionally on their handsets. In fact, Apple is betting on this as it pushes the iPhone at professional users. And it looks like Nokia is stepping up to the challenge and offering more entertainment for smartphone users too.

This trend will raise all kinds of questions for IT departments. How much can you lock down smartphones? Should you keep your employees from using their devices for entertainment? And just how much control can you exert over what employees do with their mobile gadgets?

What do you think? Is it the job of IT department to lock down smartphones? Or do 24-hour-a-day mobile workers deserve an occasional break to have some fun with their smartphones?