Qualcomm IP battle hots up

GSM patent attack targets Nokia


O2 will use uiOne initially on its high end X range devices to provide “a consistent user interface that our customers are able to easily identify with”, according to Ian Clarke, head of devices for O2 UK. "This agreement will enable O2 to further develop our understanding of customizing customers' mobile phones, allowing them to personalize their mobile experience." O2, one of the first European carriers to develop its own branded products, will also be able to remote update the UI using the new technology. Qualcomm’s first incursion into the closed world of western European 3G operators is yet another challenge to Nokia, which is also working on content delivery and user interface would-be standards based on its Series 60 and Preminet environments.

Qualcomm and Nokia have long been bitter antagonists, and Nokia even backed TI and STMicro to produce CDMA chips rather than have to turn to the San Diego chipmaker for its CDMA handset silicon. So far Qualcomm has fought off the TI threat effectively in its home market, but it is now fighting on far more fronts, and taking on a range of challenging roles. Whereas it is usually the handset maker that gets involved in interface software and operator requirements, Qualcomm the chipmaker is taking those elements on too, in a bid to increase margins, tighten control of the overall platform and influence carriers. The strategy is a creative one, and winning over operators like O2 will ensure that vendors have to keep licensing Qualcomm’s technologies.

But the process of expanding into broader markets, as well as the general progress of cellular technologies, will be accelerated if the CDMA supremo decides to create a new approach to patent licensing – one driven not by EU decisions but by market realities.

Copyright © 2005, Wireless Watch

Wireless Watch is published by Rethink Research, a London-based IT publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter delivers in-depth analysis and market research of mobile and wireless for business. Subscription details are here.

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