Nokia links up to direct-dialed video

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News Corp., Sony Pictures and CNN have struck a deal to distribute video directly to Nokia handsets, sidestepping mobile carrier decks.

Nokia has quietly started embedding links on its N95 multimedia phone around the globe that connect users with mobile sites run by the media giants and other content providers.

A Nokia spokeswoman confirmed that the company plans to announce additions to its Video Center as early as this week ahead of the MIPCOM conference in Cannes. She added that Nokia eventually will include the links on phones other than the N95.

The media companies' hookups with Nokia represent the latest end run around carrier decks, which media companies have complained can be crowded, confusing places that take too high a revenue share.

Nokia dominates the world's handset market with a market share of about 35% and sells a million phones a day, though only a fraction of those have the video links.

In the case of News Corp., users can travel straight to the company's Jamster and Jamba sites and get free access to Fox "mobisodes" like "24" as well as to video clips and outtakes from such films as "The Simpsons Movie" and "Borat," Fox Mobile Entertainment president Lucy Hood said.

"This is a new way for people to learn about video content," said Hood, who noted that News Corp. will continue to maintain its carrier partnerships. "For a lot of people, playing with embedded video on a new phone is their first experience with video on a mobile."

Likewise, CNN sees Nokia as an important new "touch point" between CNN and consumers, said Hong Kong-based Turner International vp Ringo Chan. CNN is offering the Nokia link in the Asia-Pacific region and will bring it to other markets "very soon," he said.

Sony could not be reached by press time but is expected to provide clips of such films as "Casino Royale," "Monster House" and "The Da Vinci Code."

Other content contributors to N95 include India's IBN Live, London-based mobile specialists ROK TV and San Francisco-based stand-up programmer Rooftop Comedy.
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