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Intel, Nokia, Symbian Drive to 3G Future

Hoping to solidify the often-diverse smartphone marketplace, three high tech companies said they are collaborating on future 3G developments.

Phone giant Nokia announced Tuesday that it will use Intel technology in its future Series 60 Platform smartphones. The companies forged the relationship after Intel joined Nokia's Series 60 Product Creation Community.

In another partnership, Intel and Symbian have also agreed to invest in the joint development of the first 3G reference platform based on Symbian OS and Intel XScale processors.

Smartphones go way beyond the call of duty of traditional cell phones by providing rich media applications, such as e-mail, advanced gaming and other newer forms of messaging.

Analyst firms believe smartphones will present a significant revenue opportunity for manufacturers, carriers and middleware software providers alike.

According to In-Stat/MDR, global smartphone shipments are expected to grow 44 percent year over year between 2004 and 2008. Similarly, a report by research firm iSuppli estimates smartphone shipments will rise to 108.8 million units by 2008, up from 10.9 million in 2003.

The partnerships are also each company's attempt at securing their futures in the marketplace.

Symbian is fending off advances from Linux-based systems, as well as Microsoft and its Smartphone OS.

The Symbian partnership -- made up of palm-top computer maker Psion; mobile phone giants Motorola, Nokia and Sony Ericsson; electronics powerhouse Matsushita Communications; and Siemens -- is leading Microsoft as the smartphone OS of choice for mass market, mid-tier open phones.

According to Symbian CEO David Levin, Symbian OS licensees were shipping 27 phones to more than 200 network operators and to retailers around the world. Currently 10 Symbian OS licensees were developing 40 phones for various types of network technology for launch around the world during the next 12 to 18 months. But the consortium also has to face a rise in Linux-based distributions, which are not as developed as the other two.

Likewise, Nokia is trying to overcome the effects of its recent market share losses to companies like Ericsson , NTT DoCoMo , Motorola, Siemens and Sendo.

Running atop the Symbian operating system, the Nokia Series 60 Platform supports mobile browsing, multimedia messaging service (MMS) and content downloading, as well as many personal information management (PIM) and telephony applications. Well-known Series 60 devices include the Nokia 7650 and 3650 imaging phones and the Nokia N-Gage game deck.

For its part, Intel has designs on unseating mobile phone chipmakers Motorola and Texas Instruments , of which the latter powers more than 85 percent of the five million Symbian OS-based phones shipped in the first half of 2004 based on its OMAP semiconductor platform.

Intel said it feels confident that its low power and high-speed XScale chips will be able to eventually overtake its rivals because of its massive developer base and the compatibility with other Intel architectures.

"Intel's wireless platforms combine leading-edge hardware with Intel's decades of experience in creating application ecosystems for data networks," Sam Arditi, general manager of Intel's Cellular and Handheld Group, said in a statement. "Working with Nokia and Symbian to help bring Series 60-based devices to market means that developers and phone manufacturers will have new compelling tools to deliver on the promise of 3G."