Microsoft, Qualcomm Announce New Wireless Streaming Partnership

Jeff Berg
SAN DIEGO — Qualcomm and Microsoft announced Thursday that they have struck a deal to manufacture cellphones that allow high-quality streaming video content, perhaps finally answering the question of whether adult entertainment can effectively make the wireless leap.

Until now, American mobile phone users have been limited to downloading 15-second video clips, but the advent of faster wireless technology and Qualcomm’s new agreement stands to change that.

The deal calls for the Windows Media Video (WMV) and Audio codecs to be integrated into Qualcomm chipsets as early as the first quarter of 2005.

“The goal of this agreement between Microsoft and Qualcomm is that high-quality video on mobile phone will soon provide the streaming video experience consumers get with their high-speed wired connections at home,” stated John Stratton, vice president and chief marketing officer for Verizon Wireless, one of the providers that supports Qualcomm’s wireless multimedia solutions.

“The agreement also encourages developers to deliver more powerful multimedia applications, driving continued market acceptance for wireless streaming audio and video content and providing consumers new digital entertainment experiences,” Stratton continued.

Wireless streaming technology, though popular in Europe and Asia where mobile phones outnumber personal computers, has yet to show a strong following with American consumers.

The deal with Qualcomm also moves Microsoft a step closer to its plan to expand into wireless markets, which was announced earlier this month. At the moment, only one American cellphone provider uses Microsoft media decoders in its handsets.

The agreement also bring Microsoft into competition with Apple, who announced a deal last month to integrate the iPod technology into Motorola phones.

The WMV format made headlines in April when it was announced that the upcoming release of the “Terminator 2: Extreme Edition” DVD would include a version of the film encoded using WMV, which would allow viewers to watch the movie at about six times the resolution of a standard DVD.