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Nokia Teams Up for Chinese Apps Push

Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK)'s attracting some attention in the mobile applications and music worlds today with two separate announcements.

Here's the news lead for any readers aged 23 or younger: The Finnish handset giant has secured an exclusive deal with international R&B sensation Rihanna, who has been making headlines this year for her music and her personal life. Nokia has launched the "Rihanna App," which "will deliver news, music, photos and exclusive video content direct to Nokia's entertainment-rich handsets including the Nokia N97, Nokia X6 and Nokia 5800 XpressMusic."

Sweet.

And here's the news lead for the oldies, or anyone who still thinks Rihanna is a blackcurrant drink: Nokia has formed a mobile services joint venture in China with investment outfit New Alliance that will "offer a range of mobile services in China and support the local developer ecosystem."

The joint venture will open its doors in January 2010, employ about 80 people, and be called Nokia Alliance Internet Services Co.

Nokia will use the venture to offer a selection of its Ovi services and look for ways to work with local applications developers to create new services. (See Nokia Ovi Mail Hits a Million, Nokia Opens App Store, and Is Nokia's Ovi Finnish'd?)

The vendor recently launched a software development kit (SDK) and a set of application programming interfaces (APIs) to make it easier for developers to create new Ovi services. (See Nokia Unveils Ovi APIs, SDK.)

Having a local partner is essential for making headway in the Chinese market -- home to about 700 million mobile users -- so Nokia is doing the right thing by teaming up with New Alliance, which is an affiliate of Shanghai Alliance Investment Ltd. (See China: 1 Billion Lines Served .)

Nokia's move comes at an interesting time for the Chinese mobile sector, as 3G services become more widely available and smartphones such as the iPhone and BlackBerry make their (official and legal) way into the market.

China Mobile Ltd. (NYSE: CHL) announced a deal with BlackBerry Tuesday to offer BlackBerry devices and services over its current TD-SCDMA and future TD-LTE networks, while China Unicom Ltd. (NYSE: CHU) secured a deal with Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) to distribute the iPhone a few months ago. Of course, both of those iconic devices come with their own apps stores and services, so Nokia faces stiff competition in the Chinese high-end device and mobile apps usage markets. (See China 3G Update: App Stores & iPhones.)

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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