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Mobile Unit Allies: Nokia and Intel

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SAN FRANCISCO/NEW YORK (Reuters) – Intel Corp announced a technology partnership with Nokia that could potentially give the chip maker the breakthrough it has been looking for into the mobile market.

The companies said on Tuesday they would work together on a new class of mobile computing devices, but would not say when they would come to market or give details on the kind of wireless products they hoped to develop together.

Analysts saw the pact as strategically important for Intel in the long term because it gains the world’s top cellphone maker as a potential client. But given the lack of details, analysts said it could take one or two years for products to come to market, and it remained to be seen if they would find favor with consumers,

“Intel at least has its foot in the door. It’s an important and strategic customer,” said Gartner analyst Jon Erensen, who sees the partnership as a way for Intel to get into the market for advanced phones known as smartphones.

However, he added, “You’re probably talking about something like 2011 before you get down to the power consumption and integration (levels) you’d need for that kind of device.”

Analysts said the deal gives Intel a chance to take on leading cellphone chip makers Qualcomm Inc and Texas Instruments Inc, a big Nokia supplier.

It could also mean stiffer competition for ARM Holdings Plc, which supplies core cellphone processors to both Texas Instruments and Qualcomm, and whose customers rely in part on software from Wind River Systems Inc.

Intel said earlier this month that it would buy Wind River, whose software speeds up and connects devices made by Samsung Electronics, Apple Inc, Hewlett-Packard Co and Motorola Inc.

Intel, whose microprocessors are found in eight out of 10 personal computers, already works with LG Electronics on mobile devices. The agreement with Finland’s Nokia, the world’s largest cellphone maker, is a bigger step.

Intel Chief Executive Paul Otellini has said that the handheld, embedded and netbook markets would be as important for the company as the PC market in the near future.


Under the agreement, Intel will buy intellectual property from Nokia related to high-speed wireless technology. They also plan to collaborate on open-source mobile Linux software projects, which some analysts say will compete with Google’s Android software in the netbook and mobile Internet device (MID) market.

Intel and Nokia said they aimed to define “a new mobile platform beyond today’s smartphones, notebooks and netbooks” for hardware, software and mobile Internet services. They stressed the pact was about their technology collaboration and not about specific products.

Until the companies give more detail about their plans, the news is unlikely to provide much of a boost to share prices, analysts said.

Intel’s shares rose 0.83 percent to $15.81 while Nokia shares fell 0.78 percent to 10.21 euros.

Intel already sells Atom chips for netbooks — small, no-frills computers good for Web surfing — and Nokia has said it would look into the possibly of expanding beyond phones to develop netbooks.

The pact may help Nokia compete with rivals such as iPhone from Apple Inc and BlackBerry from Research In Motion, as well as Pre from Palm Inc.

J. Gold Associates analyst Jack Gold wrote in a research note that he expects the first Nokia-Intel devices to be Atom-based and to hit the market in early to mid 2010. Within two to three years, Intel could ship tens of millions of units annually, he said.

Gold wrote on Tuesday that he expects to see Intel enter into more deals and alliances in new markets.

Copyright 2009 Reuters. Click for restrictions.

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