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Qualcomm buys mobile content company Elata

Pays $57 million.

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Qualcomm has bought mobile content delivery software Elata for $57 million, just a week after it paid $600 million for wireless broadband company Flarion.

The Elata buy will help Qualcomm offer mobile operators a software infrastructure for organising and controlling content such as ringtones, wallpaper graphics and applications, as well as applications on the Java and Brew platforms.

Elata makes an over-the-air content delivery system that works with GSM, WCDMA and CDMA2000 networks.

Qualcomm plans to integrate Elata's software with its own Brew technology, which acts as a "virtual marketplace" between content providers and mobile operators, said Gina Lombardi, senior vice president of product management and marketing at Qualcomm. Elata's technology will provide support for standards such as WAP, Java and Open Mobile Alliance DRM 1.0.

Qualcomm hopes the ensuing joint product will help it reach operators outside of the CDMA world where Brew has its roots. By allowing existing 2G mobile operators to run more profitable data services, it should also help convince them to move to 3G, she added.

Downloading content is a relatively new phenomenon in the mobile world, and operators want better technology to control what their customers can access and use, according to Albert Lin, an analyst at American Technology Research. For example, they want to prevent subscribers from downloading ringtones or using mobile e-mail systems from outside providers, he said. They also want to manage use rights for copyright material to prevent piracy. Elata's system is essentially a tool for operators to create and manage "walled gardens" of their own revenue-generating content and services, according to Lin.

Qualcomm will continue to sell Elata's software, which is used by several large customers in Europe, and it will support operators that use it, according to Lombardi. She would not speculate on when the joint product would become available but said she hopes it can be on the market within a year. Within a few months, Qualcomm expects to add a software adapter to Elata's technology for support of applications written for the Brew platform.


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