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Alliance Aims to Simplify Wireless

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High-technology industry giants from around the world are forming a new alliance to simplify how wireless telephones can be used on any network, whether to play games, share photos or trade instant messages.

Faced with maturing markets for traditional voice calling and slow uptake of newer Internet-ready mobile phones, almost 200 companies will unveil plans on Wednesday to form a new global organization to develop open standards for phones and other wireless devices to operate seamlessly together.

Alliance members include mobile phone leader Nokia of Finland, software giant Microsoft Corp., computer chip maker Intel Corp. and media conglomerate Walt Disney Co. of the United States and British wireless operator Vodafone Group Plc.

“The most important value to consumers is that no matter what device I have, no matter what service I’m going to get, no matter what carrier I’m using, I can get access to the information. The consumer will see no issues of access to content,” Jon Prial, IBM’s vice president of content, told Reuters.

It will also be good news for companies, he added, as consumers surfing the Internet on wireless devices boost usage rates and sales. That would be welcome in an industry where sales have slumped over the past year.

Others in the Open Mobile Alliance include U.S. companies Motorola Inc., Texas Instruments Inc., International Business Machines Corp., Lucent Technologies Inc. and Qualcomm Inc., along with Japan’s NTT DoCoMo Inc. and Sweden’s Ericsson.

However, consumers should not expect things to change overnight, analysts said.

“The average person probably won’t care for another two or three years when the things that this alliance develops start to show themselves on cell phones and mobile devices,” said David Cooperstein, research director at technology research firm, Forrester Research.

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