Nokia: Consumers driving digital convergence

Almost one in two people around the world use their phones as their main camera.

As Israeli consumers (just as those in the rest of the world) are faced with an ever growing campaign by cellular companies promoting the additional functions of their cellular phones, mobile phone maker Nokia said this week that not only are customers making use of the different functions but that they are, in fact, driving the demand for further digital convergence. Research conducted by the Finnish company showed that almost one in two people around the world use their phones as their main camera; over two-thirds predict a music-enabled mobile phone will eventually replace their MP3 player; and nearly half want to connect their mobile device with their home electronics. In the 11 countries where the research was commissioned, Nokia said 72% of the respondents use their phones as their alarm clocks and 73% as their main watch. Cellcom has launched a new service for subscribers traveling to the US, which allows them to send and receive sms (short message services) messages to all US networks. Until now, Cellcom only enabled sms messages to networks using GSM technology. The company said it is the first Israeli carrier to allow the service to US operators regardless of what technology their network is based on. Shareholders of Israeli cellular maker Emblaze Group have voted to buy back a 26% stake in the company from Chief Executive Officer Eli Reifman for $70 million. The sale has allowed Reifman to pay back a debt he incurred 14 months ago when he raised $60m. in a private bond offering for the company. The sale brings Reifman's share in the Ra'anana-based company he founded to 11%. Je also has an option to buy 10% at any time, maintaining his position as the controlling shareholder. Israeli founded Amdocs has won a contract from Canada's Rogers Communications to implement its customer relations management tools across Rogers' cable, wireless and telecom lines of business. Rogers has approximately 10 million subscribers to its cable TV, high-speed Internet, wireline and wireless businesses and is currently using Amdocs' billing software to support its various lines of business. With the increased threat of information leaks and virus attacks via the Web, the antivirus software market has grown significantly over the last few years. Research company Gartner Group said worldwide revenues for anti-spam software grew 13.6% in 2005 to $4 billion, split relatively evenly between the enterprise and consumer segments. Software company Symantec, which has a research facility in Or Yehuda, had 53.6% of the market last year, and was followed by McAfee, Trend Micro and Panda Software as the largest companies. Meanwhile, anti-spam software provider Commtouch warned email users about tens of thousands of World Cup related spam messages it had identified since the start of the soccer tournament two weeks ago. The Netanya-based company said most messages mention the World Cup in order to sell "typical spam offerings" such as mortgages, travel and online gambling. Commtouch was also one of two local companies appointing a new chief financial officer this week, naming Ron Ela, a former controller at Verint Systems and Partner Communications, to the position. Herzliya-based VocalTec Communications Ltd., which provides carrier-class multimedia and voice-over-IP solutions for communication service providers, meanwhile, appointed Eli Gendler as its new CFO and Rami Amit as its new chief technology officer.