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ATI, Nokia Make Multimedia Plans

By Jay Lyman
May 5, 2006 1:44 PM PT

Nokia mobile phones will get the additional hardware they need to boost their ability to play music, mobile games and video, thanks to a new partnership with graphics-and-sound silicon provider ATI, the companies announced this week.

ATI, Nokia Make Multimedia Plans

Their long-term alliance will focus on increasing multimedia capabilities in mobile phones while reducing complexity for mobile application developers.

"We are announcing our collaboration with ATI now, so that developers have the next 12 to 18 months to be innovative and create world class mobile multimedia experiences," said Nokia Senior Vice President of Multimedia Experiences Ilkka Raiskinen.

PC Pattern for Phones

The Nokia-ATI partnership, with its promise to increase multimedia capabilities built into mobile phones, suggests an industry trend reminiscent of PC evolution, Ovum Vice President of Wireless Telecoms Roger Entner told TechNewsWorld.

"Mobile handsets are becoming as powerful as early PCs," he remarked. "It makes a lot of sense to have dedicated computing power just for the graphics."

As the multimedia experience becomes more critical, Entner said, the onboard silicon for devices does too.

"You can't have the same experience with integrated graphics," he added.

Multimedia Makeover

One of the goals of the ATI and Nokia partnership is to allow mobile multimedia developers to create content that will work with a variety of devices instead of having to tailor their offerings for different types of hardware, the companies said.

To make that happen, ATI is providing a dedicated tools chain and software development kit (SDK) that is expected this fall. The companies will team on a series of workshops later this year to introduce the environment to developers.

"Our role is to enable all content -- from ultra-high quality music playback to 3D gaming -- and we'll jointly guide and support the members of the content development community as they focus on creating amazing user experiences," said ATI Vice President and GM of Handheld Products Paul Dal Santo.

Following Suit

While "budget" mobile phones will not need the advanced multimedia capabilities ATI and Nokia are contemplating, the features will be expected in the "hot" new mobile phones, according to Entner.

The increased abilities of multimedia phones will far outweigh the complexity challenges for developers, said Entner.

"And I'm sure Nvidia will follow suit with somebody else," he added.

History Lesson

Multimedia capabilities in mobile phones and the hoopla around the technology remind Gartner Vice President Ken Dulaney of past promises from phone manufacturers and wireless carriers, he told TechNewsWorld.

Referring to pictures and mobile station modems (MSMs), which have "gone nowhere," Dulaney said that despite advances, multimedia capabilities in mobile phones may be a similar case.

"Multimedia in phones has not necessarily been a big hit yet," he said. "There's been a lot of missteps and not a lot of analysis of past failures."


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