SAN JOSE, Calif. Can Nokia and Intel collaborate to make something cooler than an iPhone? Probably not.
Nevertheless the two giants announced Tuesday (June 23) a broad and somewhat vague mobile design collaboration amid the usual prefabricated excitement vendors roll out like dry ice at these events. Both companies are clearly fired up about their new mobile marriage, but there's a long road between the wedding cake and a happy and successful family of products.
They know that over in Santa Clara where Intel has been working for years to get a chip into cellphones, the growth market it sees beyond its maturing PC processor monopoly. Remember the XScale ultimately sold off to Marvell?
The Atom, Intel's second major effort, looks like a solid design and smartly carries forward the ancient x86 architecture for software compatibility. At 2W max, it's still way too power hungry for handsets, but Intel will drive it into 32nm and 22nm versions before Texas Instruments can say OMAP 5.
Intel would love to plant that chip in an iPhone 4G, but that's not going to happen. Apple has been steadily building a powerful semiconductor team of its own over in Castle Cupertino. I expect first fruits from it to emerge about the time of the next big iPhone refresh circa June 2010.
So Intel's path to the cellphone involves a somewhat longer commute via Finland.
For its part Nokia needs something, but it's not clear Intel has the secret ingredient it lacks.
Nokia has a too-broad portfolio of handsets-for-all-occasions. I can't name one that stands out or generates anything like the consumer techno-lust of the iPhone.