Entertaining With Microsoft, Calling With Nokia

Bill Gates kicks off his last Consumer Electronics Show with some TV and movie deals. Nokia Siemens wins a big Saudi contract. And Wikia Search debuts today.


Microsoft’s Gates touts video deals

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates kicked off the annual Consumer Electronics Show last night, using his 11th and final CES keynote address to highlight new deals with entertainment companies. Gates said Microsoft is partnering with NBC to provide live and on-demand Webcasts of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, and will offer MGM movies and ABC and Disney Channel TV shows over its MSN and Xbox Live services. (Los Angeles Times, free registration required) Before the CES, Warner Bros. said it is dropping the HD-DVD format for rival Blu-ray high-definition video, a big win for Sony and a blow to Toshiba and Microsoft. (MarketWatch)

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Nokia Siemens lands Saudi wireless deal

Nokia Siemens Network won a $935 million contract to build a high-end mobile network in Saudi Arabia for Middle Eastern carrier Zain. “It’s a very sizable deal,” said eQ analyst Jari Honko. “Very good news indeed for Nokia.” (Reuters) Nokia Siemens is a joint venture between Germany’s Siemens AG and Finland’s Nokia, the world’s top cellphone maker. (MarketWatch) Motorola, the No. 3 mobile phone maker, said today that it had purchased Singapore-based Soundbuzz, Asia’s largest online music company. (Reuters) The deal will let Motorola expand its Motomusic service to India, Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand. (AP in Houston Chronicle)

Wikipedia founder goes for the search

Wikia Search, an open source Web search tool from Wikipedia cofounder Jimmy Wales, debuts today, in a bet that regular citizens and $14 million from Amazon and other investors can create a search engine to rival Google, Yahoo!, and other heavyweights. The ad-funded service will incorporate feedback from users to weigh search results. (The New York Times, free registration required) Wales warns not to “expect Google-quality searches on Day 1.” But Web users may not be patient, says Search Engine Land editor Danny Sullivan. “Quitting Google is like quitting smoking,” he adds. “It’s a habit that’s hard to break, and people don’t want to break it.” (BusinessWeek.com)

Working to engage the customer

Online floral retailer 1-800-Flowers is taking customer engagement to the next level, holding a contest to flush out the Valentine’s season’s most compelling marriage proposals. Aspiring brides and bridegrooms can submit video proposals to a special YouTube channel starting today. 1-800-Flowers chose Valentine’s Day—a big day for the $16 billion floral industry, but smaller than Mother’s Day—to ring in a novel yearlong deal with Google, YouTube’s parent. “We have a very strong respect for the whole YouTube culture,” said Monica Woo, an executive at the flower firm. “What we don’t want to do is overly commercialize the channel.” (The New York Times, free registration required)

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