October 24, 2004 4:55 PM PDT

Nokia's Preminet aims to chill Qualcomm's BREW

SAN FRANCISCO--Cell phone maker Nokia on Sunday unveiled Preminet, a "one-stop shop" for wireless operators that want to sell ring tones, games, picture messaging and other cell phone paraphernalia and services, a move that opens a new battle front with competitor Qualcomm.

Preminet, a distribution and transaction service, is similar to Qualcomm's BREW, which is now used by about three dozen carriers. Nokia is offering Preminet in conjunction with mobile media publishing company Starcut, which will provide music and other content, according to a statement.

The Preminet system excludes BREW applications, instead favoring ones based on Sun Microsystems' J2ME programming language. Nokia director Steen Thygesen said BREW was rejected because its proliferation is no match for J2ME, which is embedded in nearly one-third of the world's 1.7 billion cell phones. By comparison, Qualcomm estimated in October there were 38 million BREW devices on the market.

"BREW is an interesting, proprietary solution for an early-stage market," Thygesen said. "It's for carriers that want to get a start. We're looking at a system for the longer-term market."

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