Sony Taps Symbian, TI for Next-Gen Mobile Phones

Sony has licensed Symbian's software for use in its next-generation mobile phones, which will be based on a programmable DSP (digital signal processor) hardware platform from Texas Instruments, the companies announced in a joint statement yesterday.

The mobile handsets Sony plans for upcoming high-speed wireless data services will require a powerful but power-thrifty processing engine and an open operating system, Katsumi Ihara, president of Sony's personal IT network company, said in the statement.

TI's DSP-based OMAP (open multimedia application platform) and Symbian's software are seen by Sony as "indispensable components" for bringing such devices to market, Ihara added.

The OMAP platform is designed to support current second-generation (2G) as well as future 2.5G and 3G wireless standards, according to the statement.

Symbian's software offerings include the EPOC operating system, as well as application engines and user interfaces. The software is designed specifically for use in wireless Internet access devices, and incorporates several technologies such as Java, Bluetooth and WAP (wireless application protocol) that are widely seen as emerging standards within the wireless communications industry.

The Symbian platform has already been licensed by several major players in the wireless industry, including the world's three leading handset makers and Symbian owners Nokia, Motorola and L.M. Ericsson Telephone. Other licensees include Psion and Matsushita Communications Industrial, two other Symbian owners, as well as Dutch electronics maker Philips Electronics.

Software giant Microsoft recently has made clear that it aims to become a major player in the wireless device arena, but Sony's move to select the Symbian platform for its future mobile handsets appears to be a setback to the software giant's ambitions.

In February, Sony announced that its first WAP-enabled handsets, scheduled to ship in select European markets in May, will feature microbrowser software from Microsoft.

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