Nokia, Microsoft collaborate on PlayReady

Nokia and Microsoft extended their mobile multimedia collaboration to include support for the software giant's PlayReady content access technology across the Nokia S60 and Series 40 mobile device platforms, an agreement that also encompasses Microsoft's DRM safeguards. The firms promise that Nokia's PlayReady support will make it easier for content owners and service providers to offer premium content and enable more flexible business models, e.g. renting content or accessing media offline. PlayReady also enables consumers to manage content between multiple platforms and devices: The technology supports virtually all types of digital content and formats including Windows Media Audio, Windows Media Video, AAC, AAC+, AMR and H.264.

Microsoft released the PlayReady Porting Kit for mobile devices earlier this month, and expects the first PlayReady-enabled services to appear in 2008. PlayReady is designed for backwards compatibility with Windows Media DRM 10--devices supporting the technology can access existing Windows Media DRM-based content as well as new PlayReady content services.

"People are increasingly using their mobile devices for enjoying digital content, such as music, games, videos and photos," said Nokia senior VP of multimedia experiences Ilkka Raiskinen in a prepared statement. "By adding support for Microsoft PlayReady technology, we are enabling service providers to offer a wide range of content and create truly compelling experiences across mobile devices, personal computers and online services. We plan to support PlayReady across a range of S60 and Series 40 devices starting in 2008."

The smart money says Nokia's adoption of Microsoft DRM ties directly to the reported launch of its worldwide online music service later this month. Citing sources close to the initiative, Fortune reports Nokia CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo will announce the new worldwide service Aug. 29, with an autumn launch timed to the anticipated European release of rival Apple's iPhone device. The digital storefront will enable consumers to download songs to their PCs for transfer to mobile phones and other portable music players, similar to Apple's iTunes. The service is expected to allow transfer of DRM-protected songs to non-Nokia handsets. Kallasvuo hinted at the music service as early as June, explaining corporate restructuring moves by saying "The convergence of the mobile communications and Internet industries is opening up new growth opportunities for us, both in the devices business as well as in consumer Internet services and enterprise solutions."

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