Nokia unveils RSS technology for phones

Nokia introduced a service that lets users display widgets on their mobile phones

Web 2.0 is coming to mobile phones, according to Nokia, which has launched a service that allows Java-enabled phone users to choose widgets, or small applications, that can be displayed on their phones.

WidSets, introduced on Tuesday, is a free offering that users can set up on the company's Web site. On the site, customers can choose from many different widgets that will be displayed on their phones.

Widgets usually reside on a desktop and receive information, such as data delivered via RSS (Really Simple Syndication). For example, a Google News widget can appear as a small icon, and when users click on the icon, they can see the latest headlines that appear on the Google News Web site. Widgets are considered Web 2.0 applications because they offer an interactive and customizable service different from more static Web sites.

After a new user signs up, the WidSets site sends an application via text message to the user's phone. Users must run the WidSets application and stay connected to the Internet to see the widgets and to allow the widgets to be updated with new content.

The WidSets Web site is designed to support community input so users can browse for useful widgets based on community rankings.

The service is free for phone users, although they'll pay associated costs to their mobile operators for data download.

For now, Nokia doesn't have a way to make money from the offering but in the future the service could support advertising or Nokia could sell premium content, said Tom Henriksson, director of Nokia's emerging business unit.

WidSets isn't the first widget offering for mobile phones. Opera Software ASA supports widgets on its mobile browsers. Henriksson praised the Opera offering as a great option but said that WidSets is designed to make using widgets on mobile phones easy.

Nokia has increasingly begun offering different types of services like this one that could compete with content services from operators. But Henriksson says that offerings like WidSets benefit everyone in the market. "We think these help data services in general take off. Then everybody wins," he said.

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Nancy Gohring

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