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Nokia and Qualcomm: foes to partners

Posted: 19 Feb 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Nokia Qualcomm partnership? Symbian OS? mobile device?

Both ST-Ericsson and Qualcomm Inc. have unveiled partnership programs with Nokia Corp. based around reference platforms that will use the Symbian Foundation's software.

Qualcomm's deal focuses on developing UMTS mobile devices, initially for North America, that will be based on the S60 software on Symbian OS, running on chipmaker's latest MSM7xxx-series and MSM8xxx-series chipsets targeting wireless broadband.

Qualcomm was among the companies to join the Symbian Foundation, bringing the total membership of the Nokia led open-source mobile OS project group to 78.

The companies, for long arch rivals due to long standing patent infringement law suits that were finally settled last year, say the first mobile devices based on the collaboration would be expected to launch in mid-2010 and be compatible with the forthcoming Symbian Foundation platform.

"Nokia is very pleased to be in discussions with Qualcomm around designing mobile devices that can benefit from the high level of integration found on MSM chipsets," said Kai Oistamo, executive VP, Devices, Nokia, in a statement.

According to Tony Cripps, principal analyst at consultancy group Ovum, this is "proof that the previously unthinkable can happen."

He adds that despite the immediate target of the venture being UMTS handsets, rather than CDMA devices, "that shouldn't devalue the significance of the venture, either for Nokia or Qualcomm."

The United States remains something of a final frontier for Nokia with Qualcomm the perfect partner to help change that, said Cripps. Meanwhile, Qualcomm stands to benefit from the expanded addressable market for its chipsets that the recent thaw in relations with Nokia (following October 2008's $2.29 billion technology licensing settlement) has allowed.

Symbian ramp up
Meanwhile, Nokia and ST-Ericsson are targeting 3G smart phones with a reference platform that combines the newly formed group's U8500 single chipwhich integrates ST-Ericsson's Nomadik application processor and high-speed packet access Release 7 modem.

The design will run on Symbian's OS, and is expected to be ready for sampling by the end of next month.

The U8500, which relies on the Nomadik application-processor technology, integrates the SMP (Symmetric Multi-Processing) capable ARM dual-Cortex A9 CPU in a low-power and cost-optimized platform supporting Symbian Foundation software.

ST-Ericcson claims the chip is the first enabling full high-definition 1080 progressive-scan camcorder functions.

Peter Ropke, senior VP R&D Nokia Devices, said the U8500 based platform is likely to be used in many smart phone designs that use the Symbian OS.

- John Walko
EE Times Europe

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