Nokia and Vodafone buddy up for Web services

Nokia and Vodafone have announced a deal that will see the handset maker's mobile Internet services platform cropping up on Vodafone handsets.

Nokia and Vodafone have announced a deal that will see the handset maker's mobile Internet services platform cropping up on Vodafone handsets in Europe.

Under the agreement, Nokia's Ovi platform -- which includes music, maps, gaming and social networking -- is to be introduced on Vodafone handsets from next year. Nokia will also produce a number of handsets exclusively for Vodafone.

The new platform will offer both Vodafone and Ovi services side by side, including both companies' own music stores.

No details on an Australian launch are available yet, according to Nokia. "Of course, we are in discussions with Vodafone locally on mutually beneficial opportunities for the future and we will announce them in due course," a spokesperson for the handset maker said.

When Nokia first launched Ovi, some industry watchers questioned whether the handset manufacturer would be able to sell mobile Internet services whilst not risking the ire of its operator customers -- who are themselves trying to exploit such services to drive up non-SMS data revenue.

Ovum analyst John Delaney said the Vodafone deal will come as a significant boon to the platform.

"Of all the European operators, Vodafone is in the best position to be able to embrace the Ovi brand without damaging its own. Vodafone has invested heavily in building and marketing itself as a content-services brand, since launching Vodafone live! in late 2002. Of all the operator portal brands launched around that time Vodafone live! is now clearly the strongest. As a result, Vodafone is able to encompass other strong brands without the risk of putting its own brand in the shade," he said in a research note.

Vodafone has announced a series of content deals with big Internet brands in the course of the year, including agreements to put Google Maps, MySpace and YouTube on its mobiles.

Vodafone is not the first operator to take on Ovi: Nokia announced a pact with Spanish operator Telefonica Moviles earlier this year.