Intel, Nokia Intend to Shape Mobile Computing Together

 
 
By Michelle Maisto  |  Posted 2009-06-23
 
 
 

Intel, the world's largest chip maker, and Nokia, the world's largest mobile phone maker, have struck a deal to create new types of mobile computing devices that will challenge the current crop of smartphones and cell phones, the two companies announced June 23.

"Smartphones and handhelds have powerful computers inside, and when you combine that with high-bandwidth mobile broadband, it can transform the user experience and bring incredible mobile applications and the full Internet into a device that fits in your pocket," said Anand Chandrasekher of Intel's Ultra Mobility group.

"It's natural, then, for the leaders in both computing and communications to come together to accelerate this innovation, while at the same time driving exciting new revenue opportunities for both our companies."

Sharing a call to media and analysts with Nokia Executive Vice President of Devices Kai Oistamo, Chandrasekher continued, "I'm very pleased to announce that Intel and Nokia are today joining forces in a long-term strategic relationship to align and shape the next era of mobile computing."

Charles King, principal analyst with Pund-IT, told eWEEK, "The wireless handset space has been one that Intel has had its sights set on for some time, and Nokia is the largest handset vendor and a prime piece of real estate to build a business with."

While Intel's low-power Atom processor is the dominant chip in the popular netbook computer space, Intel has struggled to make headway in the mobile phone market, dominated by Texas Instruments and Qualcomm.

In February, at the Mobile World Congress, Intel and LG announced a collaboration around mobile Internet devices, or MIDs, in which Intel would contribute its MID hardware platform, code-named Moorestown, as well as its Linux Moblin v2.0 software platform, though the two companies have yet to bring a device to market.

On the call today, Intel officials would not comment on Moorestown, and neither side would offer product or timeline specifics. "We will talk about products when we're ready to talk products," Chandrasekher said.

"They like to announce the intent first," said John Spooner, an analyst with Technology Business Research. "They're putting a stake in the ground, saying, we have a partnership, and we want everyone to know."

Spooner told eWEEK the relationship was likely finalized over the last couple of weeks and Intel and Nokia are ironing out the road map at this time. "I'm not sure they're going to have products for some time, but I'm sure they will. If they're designing products together, though, it's going to take some time," he said.

During a summer when smartphone makers Apple, Palm and Research In Motion all announced new products, the timing was particularly ripe for the announcement, detailed or not. Intel wants a piece of the smartphone market, and Nokia-while huge in Europe and Asia-wants a bigger piece of the U.S. market.

"Intel would like nothing better than to power the iPhone. Intel wants to be in the 2010 iPhone," Spooner told eWEEK. "The big picture is that Intel is designing an ecosystem around ultramobile processors-it's viewing the mobile phone market, which is about three times bigger than the PC market, and it wants a piece of that. Intel's next several billion dollars are going to come from handsets, not PCs."

Is it time for Texas Instruments and Qualcomm to start worrying?

"Paul Otellini has brought stronger vision and leadership to the position [of Intel's CEO] than his predecessors," said Pund-IT's King. "Given Intel's capabilities in the market, I'd see them as a threat. But until devices come out, Texas Instruments and Qualcomm and others will be playing a wait-and-see game, and are making their own plans."

King added with some pleasure, "It's going to be an interesting year." 

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