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Nokia chooses Qualcomm to power its first Windows Phone devices

Leaves ST-Ericsson's executive in the lurch
Fri May 20 2011, 17:57

JUST HOURS after chip designer ST-Ericsson said it would supply chips to 12 of Nokia's upcoming Windows Phone devices, the Finnish phone maker declared that it had picked Qualcomm.

Nokia's decision to load Microsoft's Windows Phone operating system on its next generation smartphones meant that it had to start looking around for new chip vendors. Earlier today, ST-Ericsson said that its U8500 chip will power 12 Nokia Windows Phone devices, but hours later Nokia said that it had picked Qualcomm to supply chips in the first of its Windows Phone devices.

Qualcomm is a natural choice as all current Windows Phone 7 devices use the firm's Snapdragon chip. Microsoft's strict design guidelines prescribe the use of Qualcomm Snapdragon chips, although the firm said that it will loosen its grip on specifications allowing other chip vendors a sniff of what might, after all, become a rather small pie.

A Nokia spokesman told Reuters, "The first Nokia based on Windows Phone will have the Qualcomm chipset," adding, "Our aim is to build a vibrant ecosystem around Nokia and the Windows Phone OS and with that intent we are naturally continuing discussions with a number of chipset suppliers for our future product portfolio."

The spokesman told Reuters that ST-Ericsson was one of the companies Nokia was talking to, however unlike Carlo Bozotti, CEO of ST-Ericsson, he didn't go so far as to say it was a done deal. Bozotti claimed that 12 Nokia phones will feature ST-Ericsson U8500 chips, however it now seems that Qualcomm will get first crack, and if Bozotti has spoken out before the ink has dried on any contract, then there could be some ramifications.

Whether Nokia chooses Qualcomm, ST-Ericsson or any other fabless wonder, the biggest challenge it faces is not finding a chip designer but making the so far uninspiring Windows Phone operating system worth buying. µ


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