Nokia and Intel to Work Together on Mobile Computing
Intel and Nokia said Tuesday that they planned to jointly create mobile computing products that would meld the features of phones and computers.
Exactly what Intel and Nokia intend to do together remained unclear. Executives from the companies at a news conference only pledged to produce mobile devices that will have Internet access and run on Intel chips.
“We are exploring new ideas in shapes, sizes, materials and displays,” Kai Oistamo, an executive vice president at Nokia, said during the news conference. In an interview, he added, “We are not committing to any schedules or concrete product plans at this time.”
When asked directly, Mr. Oistamo declined even to confirm that Nokia would make phones using Intel’s Atom processors as a result of the deal.
Talk of merging cellphones and PCs has become commonplace from both personal computer and phone companies. “We are going to see a proliferation of devices, and you can call them whatever you want,” said Rebecca Runkle, the managing director at Research Edge, an equities analysis company. “Some of them are going to fail miserably, and some will be massive home runs that we can’t even envision yet.”
The lack of specific details around the Intel and Nokia announcement left analysts perplexed about the strength of the relationship. “It all sounds great, but without any content or timelines on products, it’s hard to go with just ‘trust us,’ ” said Ms. Runkle.
Intel and Nokia have as much to gain or lose from this new era of products as any other technology companies. Based in Santa Clara, Calif., Intel sells the vast majority of chips that go into PCs and computer servers. Meanwhile, Nokia, based in Espoo, Finland, produces the most cellphones.
Intel has spent the last couple of years pouring money into Atom, a chip that it hopes will secure a prominent place for the company in the cellphone market. The company’s past efforts to crack the cellphone business have failed, and most smartphones today run on a rival chip architecture called ARM. The bet on smartphones is meant to carry Intel into a higher-growth market and keep it at the center of computing.
While Nokia has done well in the smartphone market, it was caught off guard by the success of Apple’s iPhone. In particular, Apple has managed to build intense software developer interest in its phone through the App Store, and the more traditional phone makers are trying to catch up with their own software stores.
Beyond devices, Intel and Nokia plan to develop software for cellphones centered on the open-source Linux operating system. Intel has invested heavily in a version of Linux for phones called Moblin, and this month it paid $884 million to acquire Wind River Systems, which makes versions of Linux that can sit on top of chips inside things like cars and consumer electronics products.