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Nokia, IBM Target Mobile Enterprise

Nokia and IBM are targeting the mobile enterprise by linking mobile communications and IT in a group of products operating on the Symbian Operating System.

Announced Monday at the 3GSM World Congress in Cannes, France, the firms said they have already lined up major customers for the effort, which will be based on a combination of Nokia's Communicator platform and IBM's mobile software. In a statement, the firms said they "will jointly deliver mobile solutions that enable greater workforce mobility."

Competitors, however, may be attempting to throw a monkey wrench into their effort, as Reuters reported that Nokia's attempt to take control of Symbian--hitherto considered a foregone conclusion--will be challenged. Two weeks ago, Nokia said it would purchase Psion's share of the operating system, giving it a controlling interest in the OS.

Nokia's 9500 Communicator family is slated for an important role in the effort with IBM. Some models of the 9500 sport "qwerty" keyboards that will make it relatively easy to enter data. There were reports circulating at the conference that at least one 9500 model will feature Wi-Fi capability--an important first for a cell phone. The device will reportedly carry the hefty price tag of more than $1,000, making it unattractive for the consumer market but still valuable for the mobile-sales and field-force automation markets.

In noting that a wide mix of IBM software products will operate on the Symbian OS, the firms said in a statement: "These include WebSphere Everyplace Access Client, WebSphere Everyplace Connection Manager Client, WebSphere Micro Environment, IBM Tivoli, and Lotus Sametime Instant Messaging Client for the Nokia Communicator. These provide access to a wide range of enterprise backend systems, enabling users to maintain a seamless connection to critical information, and enable enterprises and service providers to securely extend a new class of high value applications and services to mobile users. IBM Global Services will provide system integration services for these solutions."

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