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Pondering the Nokia/Qualcomm lovefest

Posted: 23 Feb 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Congress Mobile World? LTE femtocells? 3G?

Being practical
In the end it came down to pragmatism and that catchphrase heard so often here this week, "the realities of the new wireless marketplace." Nokia has been hugely successful in global markets, but has for long been a bit player in North America, which is, at least initially, the target for the alliance with Qualcomm.

One source suggests a phone using the Symbian platform is already under development targeting U.S. consumers and, crucially operators, probably AT&T. This is a must for Nokia.

At a conference on the opening day of MWC, Nokia CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo stressed there was an imperative in the mobile phone business for collaboration. We all need to work with long term partners as well as competitors, and work in different ways than we have gone about our business in the past, was the message.

But not everyone will be pleased at the outcome, becuase Nokia as market leader and market driver was the most popular girl in class. Indeed some have been dreading Nokia and Qualcomm getting together.

The deal is clearly another nail in the coffin of Texas Instruments' efforts to sell its legacy baseband business. Neither is it necessarily positive for ST-Ericsson, another very significant supplier of chips to Nokia.

And with Nokia now driving the Symbian Foundation, the response may also owe something of the threat, notably in the U.S market, from the Android platform and operating system.

There was a disappointing and unexpectedly poor showing here [at the Mobile World Congress] this week of Android phones. All this after it was the star of last year's event with many demos and much surrounding hype. Samsung and even Motorola have many in the pipeline, threatening the Symbian's dominance in smart phones. But that exuberance and interest in things new was buoyed up a year ago by prospects for growth and expanding niches to be leveraged. In "the realities of the new wireless marketplace," the mood was much more about a return to basics, established players, and consolidation.

The message is clear though. Nokia will keep its chip suppliers, with Qualcomm now in the club, both close and at arm's length, with a keen eye on competition to win the vital sockets across the platformbasebands, applications processors and probably RF front ends and memories as well.

- John Walko
EE Times Europe

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