August 3, 2001 4:45 PM PDT

A video with your BREW?

Qualcomm will unveil Monday the first working application--a way to watch video on handsets--for its software operating system for cell phones.

The software was designed by North Carolina-based High Speed Net Solutions, which will announce Monday that it has developed an entire suite of products for Qualcomm's BREW software, including ways to view graphics, animation and 3-D on handsets, the company said.

A working version of the software is being shopped around to handset makers and carriers, said High Speed Net Solutions Chief Technical Officer Bjorn Jawerth.

BREW, which stands for binary runtime environment for wireless, is Qualcomm's entry into the ongoing battle to be the predominant operating system for cell phones. The fight is being waged by companies like Texas Instruments, Motorola, Sun Microsystems, Nokia, Microsoft and even chip giant Intel. These companies hope to create a market for installing software applications on mobile phones to make the phones more useful.

Since BREW was introduced in January, the main focus has been on attracting developers to write the software programs that will persuade service providers and handset makers to adopt BREW.

Sun's rendition of Java for cell phones, known as J2ME, has a clear lead in this category, with about 11,000 developers. Qualcomm puts the number of BREW developers at a little more than 60.

Jawerth said his company isn't choosing sides. Aside from the software it developed for BREW, the company is also developing software applications for most of the other competing platforms. But he did say BREW's environment is an "easy one" to develop in.

Monday's announcement also marks the latest in a trend as handset makers and wireless developers push toward the delivery of video to handsets.

Some efforts, like the one by German carrier Hutchison, will be launched within a year. Hutchison has signed an agreement to provide 10-second highlights of British soccer matches for wireless subscribers.

Also, Qualcomm itself this week announced that all of the handset makers in Japan that work with Qualcomm chipsets have agreed to embed them with software that allows cell phones to display animated graphics and even become karaoke machines.

 

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