Intel and Nokia have more than a few holes in their respective collections of mobile technologies. How far will the collaboration announced Tuesday go to plug the holes and take them to the next technology plane?
A platitude easily missed in the announcement may be the most revealing statement. Simply, that the two companies create the opportunity to take advantage of each other's expertise.
Nokia makes mobile phones. Intel, the world's largest chipmaker, can't get its chips into mobile phones. On the other hand, Intel makes the silicon that powers the world's PCs. Nokia doesn't have a clue about PCs.
The announcement won't necessarily inspire confidence with its lack of product particulars, but that's not what it's about. "Today is a relationship announcement," said Jeff Orr, senior analyst for mobile devices at ABI Research.
Intel and Nokia are simply agreeing at this stage to collaborate rather than be direct competitors, according to Orr.
Nokia was clear--in a cryptic sort of way--on one point, however: "Today's collaboration is not about smartphones but creating a new class of devices," Kai Oistamo, executive vice president for devices at Nokia, said in a phone interview Tuesday.
Beyond those future devices--presumably powered by Intel silicon--what does Intel get? Initially, the most concrete thing is 3G. "This is a gap for Intel, which has focused on Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and WiMax," Orr said. "As a result, when future architectures like an Atom platform are developed for MIDs (mobile Internet devices), Netbooks, smartphones, that means vendors will have more flexibility for connectivity."
In short, Intel can build 3G into its chipsets and Intel can compete more effectively in the future with products like the iPhone and Palm Pre that include 3G as standard. Intel-based notebooks and Netbooks, until recently, were rarely offered with 3G as a standard option.
"We're not talking about specific products today but certainly we would not have taken a license (from Nokia) if we didn't have the intention to build a product," Anand Chandrasekher, Intel senior vice president and general manager at the Ultra Mobility Group, said in a phone interview Tuesday, referring to Intel's licensing of Nokia's HSPA/3G modem technology.
And it may be too soon for 4G technologies like WiMax. There are many countries (ABI Research's Orr counts about 100) where 3G is just emerging, so talking about WiMax (a 4G technology) is "very premature for most countries," he said. … Read more