Nokia and Intel have announced a new partner relationship that will define a new mobile platform beyond these company’s current offerings. And while the outcome of this agreement will be some type of new class of mobile devices, there are several others pieces to the relationship that may impact the entire mobile industry.
Impacts on the Mobile Open Source Movement
One of the items spoken about in the shared press release is the collaboration Intel and Nokia will engage in across open-source mobile Linux software projects.
Currently Nokia’s open-source efforts focus around its Maemo platform (used on its Internet Tablets), while Intel’s efforts are spread out towards the Moblin OS (used in several MIDs and embedded devices).
Under the new agreement, Nokia and Intel will coordinate open source efforts by aligning some of the underlying APIs across these platforms. They will also continue to work on several smaller projects such as oFono, ConnMan, Mozilla, X.Org, BlueZ, D-BUS, Tracker, GStreamer, and PulseAudio to provide more commonly-used open source standards across these platforms.
The act of just standardizing on underlying development and connectivity standards will encourage better application compatibility, and add more incentive for other companies and carriers to consider open-source software for their projects.
Impacts on Mobile Devices
Currently, consumers have a number of mobile solutions to choose from: Palm/webOS, Apple/OS X, RIM/BlackBerry Windows Mobile, Nokia/Symbian. With this shared partnership, Intel and Nokia will be able to add yet another low-cost and highly customizable operating system to the mix which may offer users better accessibility to connected services.
Another noted item in the shared press release has Intel licensing Nokia’s HSPA/3G modem technologies in order to better develop flexible mobile computing solutions. While nothing was stated during this press release, a later rumor surfaced saying that Nokia has ordered netbooks from Quanta Computer, Inc. and Compal Electronics, Inc. If this report is to believed, its possible that Nokia could be aiming to bring cellular-enabled netbooks to market as soon as Q3 of this year.
Despite this news, the Nokia and Intel partnership aims to develop a platform that serves multiple computing solutions — smartphones, netbooks, laptops, and probably an experimental one or more.
Users will be exposed to a greater variety of devices which will be able to be connected. And a wealth of form factors and pricing will lead to more competition between manufacturers, which leads to more and better solutions for users.
Impacts on Mobile Developers/Industry
While there is nothing for users to gain from this announcement now in terms of a readily available product, it clearly puts Moblin/Maemo and future open source efforts on a path of greater relevance for mobile device solutions.
To those who develop mobile software, this partnership is an open call to better communication between two larger groups of mobile Linux camps, and can conceivably make development easier. Sharing these APIs and toolsets would mean a faster course to making applications, therefore making the open-source option the next potential application marketplace for the mobile arena.
The mobile industry always has to deal with incumbents who are not only used to being leaders, but consistent ones. This Nokia-Intel partnership could have the effect of reshaping the mobile landscape by combining the efforts of two brands PC and mobile users are already familiar with in a new way.