Nokia (NYSE:NOK) said it will use Qualcomm's (NASDAQ:QCOM) chipsets for its first smartphones running Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone platform, but is negotiating with other silicon vendors to supply chips for future Windows Phone devices. Qualcomm has been the sole supplier of silicon so far for Windows Phone devices.
"The first Nokias based on Windows Phone will have the Qualcomm chipset," a Nokia spokesman told Reuters. "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."
Nokia's decision to use Qualcomm's chips for the first batch of its Windows Phone devices is not surprising considering how much Nokia executives have emphasized their desire to get the company's first Windows smartphones to market as soon as possible. However, the decision to look beyond Qualcomm for chipsets for Windows Phone devices represents a marked shift in hardware design for the platform. Microsoft has kept tight control over specifications for the devices so far, and Qualcomm's Snapdragon chipsets power all of the Windows Phone devices on the market currently from handset makers such as Dell, HTC, LG and Samsung.
The Nokia spokesman said ST-Ericsson was one of the vendors Nokia is holding talks with. ST-Microelectronics CEO Carlo Bozotti told Forbes that at least some of Nokia's Windows Phone gadgets will run on ST-Ericsson silicon. (Interestingly, Forbes reported Nokia plans to release 12 Windows Phone devices during 2012, a nugget that a Nokia spokeswoman declined to confirm.)
ST's former wireless business was a key Nokia supplier before it was merged into ST-Ericsson in 2009. The design win with Nokia would be a major victory for ST-Ericsson, which reported a 33 percent drop in revenue for the first quarter along with a $179 million loss.
Interestingly, according to Forbes, the next major wave of Windows Phone devices will be called Windows Phone 8. The platform is set to receive a major software upgrade, dubbed "Mango," in the second half of this year. Nokia has not said when it will release its first Windows Phone device but has said it will be shipping the devices in volumes in 2012.
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