Netscape takes first step into micro browsers

Marking the first step into microbrowsers for its Netscape Communications division, AOL said it has licensed the source code of Nokia's WAP (wireless application protocol) browser. No financial details of the multi-year agreement were given.

The Netscape WAP browser will have AOL enhanced features for use across a variety of mobile communications devices, the companies said in a joint statement. AOL, an AOL Time Warner company, said it will also support other wireless standards that "foster a vibrant mobile data experience."

Users of wireless devices typically can't pick which browser they want to use. The software comes pre-installed on the hardware. A spokeswoman for Nokia said the company has no plans to install the Netscape's microbrowser on its handsets. AOL has not announced any agreements with device manufacturers.

Nokia and AOL are not the first to announce a deal in the mobile Internet arena. Bitter rivals of both companies -- Ericsson and Microsoft -- forged an alliance over a year ago. The focus of a joint venture of the two companies has been on mobile e-mail. Additionally Microsoft offers a micro version of its Internet Explorer. Other players are Japanese phone operator NTT DoCoMo, with its locally immensely popular I-mode mobile Internet, and Openwave Systems, the combination of Phone.com and Software.com.

AT&T Wireless Systems Inc. gained a license to use I-mode technology when NTT DoCoMo bought a 16 percent stake in the US mobile operator late last year.

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