Nokia + Intel: What Will It Spawn?

As widely reported yesterday, Nokia and Intel announced a long-term partnership:


Intel Corporation and Nokia today announced a long-term relationship to develop a new class of Intel Architecture-based mobile computing device and chipset architectures which will combine the performance of powerful computers with high-bandwidth mobile broadband communications and ubiquitous Internet connectivity.

To realize this shared vision, both companies are expanding their longstanding relationship to define a new mobile platform beyond today's smartphones, notebooks and netbooks, enabling the development of a variety of innovative hardware, software and mobile Internet services.

Despite Nokia's relative nonchalance in the face of declining market share and its near disappearance from the US market, the company clearly must be concerned about competitors with more momentum (RIM, iPhone, Android). Furthermore, the OEM's recent carrierless launch of the high-end N97 in the US means the device doesn't stand a chance of mainstream adoption.

While the company could still produce a viable smartphone competitor for the US market -- I've argued that the company's greatest "re-entry" opportunity comes at the lower end -- new devices might also be where Nokia can score wins. Indeed this line in the press release is most intriguing to me: "both companies are expanding their longstanding relationship to define a new mobile platform beyond today's smartphones, notebooks and netbooks, enabling the development of a variety of innovative hardware, software and mobile Internet services."

Making those non-traditional connected mobile devices (and services) commercially viable, however, will rely on Intel CEO Paul Otellini's vision of a "ubiquitous, wireless broadband infrastructure." To be sure that infrastructure is coming; the questions are: when, who will control it and how much will it cost users?

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Related: This lengthy Bloomberg analysis argues that Nokia's "failure" of late in the smartphone arena has been one of management and execution rather than technology:

Nokia’s weakness has been one of execution rather than of technology. It courted software developers for years, registering more than four million of them on its Forum Nokia service in the last decade. It hasn’t done as well at getting software add-ons to customers. 

One might make the comparison of Nokia to the old AOL: once indisputably dominant, now unable to quickly adapt to a rapidly changing and more competitive landscape. 

Update: There's speculation that Nokia will offer an Android-powered netbook next year.