Mobile internet highlights cellphone expo

Several companies announced moves Monday at the World Mobile Conference to increase and enhance internet access from mobile phones.

Several companies announced moves Monday at the World Mobile Conference to increase and enhance internet access from mobile phones.

Nokia, the world's biggest cellphone maker, announced two new services and two new handsets designed to optimize mobile computing. Sony Ericsson announced one handset and Texas Instruments Inc. said it would demonstrate a prototype cellphone based on Google Inc.'s Android operating system with its own processor inside.

Also at the Barcelona, Spain conference, Microsoft Corp. said it plans to buy Palo Alto, Calif.-based software maker Danger Inc. The company is best known for its Sidekick cellphone and for software that allows cellphone users to browse the web, access e-mail and exchange instant messages.

Nokia, which controls about 40 per cent of the handset market, is seeking to marry services with its devices. Its new Share on Ovi service will allow users to manage, share and store their personal media, including photos; documents in 100 formats and Nokia Maps 2.0 — a service the company said is the first pedestrian-oriented navigation system.

"As the internet is freed from the limitations of the desktop, we are taking mobility into a completely new realm of possibility," said CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo. "We are redefining the internet itself as it increasingly becomes a medium of immediate and personal experiences."

Nokia Maps 2.0 will be available in a test version this month and incorporated into Series 40 devices this year, he said.

"Struggling with a paper-sized map will be a thing of the past," Kallasvuo said.

Nokia also announced new handsets aimed at converging home and mobile internet use, including the N78, which improves on the N73's connectivity and adds an FM transmitter that allows users to play music from the device over a car radio or home hi-fi system. The phone, which also enables geotagging, or labeling photos with geographic co-ordinates, will cost about $500 U.S. None of the company's N-series of phones, however, are available in Canada yet.

The new N96 handset includes more memory, more applications and more video than its predecessor, the N95, with a bigger 2.9-inch display, 16 gigabytes of storage that can expand to 32 with an SD card and a high-speed USB that will allow the transfer of a full-length movie in two minutes. The device will ship in the third quarter for about $725 U.S.

Sony Ericsson's Xperia X1, its web phone aimed at premium and business users, will launch in the second half of 2008 and will be sold worldwide, including in Canada. No price was given.