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Nokia to add Google search on handsets - extended

Nokia will add Google’s search engine to its handsets, starting with selected phones and markets and ultimately extending to some mass-market models in over 100 countries, the companies said.

Nokia has similar deals in place with Yahoo and Microsoft around the world, and with Baidu in China and Yandex in Russia. “Providing choices for our consumers is an important driver in Nokia’s Internet service strategy,” Ilkka Raiskinen, Nokia’s vice-president of software and services, said in a statement issued at the Mobile World Congress wireless fair in Barcelona. As networks grow faster and most mobile phone handsets now come with Web browsers, Internet companies are moving aggressively to bring search, e-mail, mapping and other familiar online services to phones.

Google search would at first be added to selected phones and markets and later to some mass-market models in more than 100 countries, the companies said.  “This also might be a bit of a defensive move in light of Android-based devices supposedly coming in the H2 of 2008,” said Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi. “Although Nokia might not adopt the (Android) platform it is making sure they are working with Google and offering consumers what they want.”

Google is scheduled to roll out its Android software – a direct rival to Nokia’s S60 platform -- for cellphones later this year. Google search will be accessed through Nokia’s own search application, and will first be available to users of four new multimedia phones Nokia announced on Monday. Nokia has search applications on 40 handset models. Nokia and Google already collaborate in a limited way, with Google search available on Nokia’s Internet tablets. Some of Nokia’s top models also support the popular, Google-owned video-sharing site YouTube. By 0930 GMT, Nokia shares were up 1.4% in Helsinki, against a rise of 0.6% in the European technology index. (Reuters)