Why Intel should buy Nokia

Why Intel should buy Nokia

Summary: A marriage between Intel and Nokia could be just the move that the chipmaker needs to help it make an impact on the mobile market that has so far eluded it

SHARE:

There's a lot of talk about which company, if any, should buy Nokia: Lenovo was the latest company rumoured to be interested (until a Lenovo executive dismissed the idea as 'a joke').

But, for me, there's one firm that would be a more natural fit than any of the others being rumoured as potential new owners of Nokia: Intel.

Nokia-Intel
Could Intel + Nokia succeed?

Of course, there's been no suggestion that such a thought has ever occurred to either Nokia or Intel, and no suggestion from either that such an acquisition is ever likely to happen — but the way the mobile market is developing right now, there's no denying an alliance between the pair would make a lot of sense.

Firstly, Intel is desperate to get its chips into the smartphone market in a big way, as the introduction of the first handsets to use the Intel Atom Z2460 processor (previously codenamed Medfield) showed.

However, right now, Intel clearly needs the smartphone market more than the market needs it. Whereas the PC market is mature, stable and a little bit dull, mobile is a huge, rapidly growing market — and therefore one Intel is keen to take a more significant slice of.

So far, in order to boost its presence in smartphones, Intel seems to be trying to build support organically, letting its chips become known and recognised as a serious option for smartphone makers over time — much the same way its desktop PC business developed.

Allegiances

It's a strategy, however, that's unlikely work in mobile: there are too many pre-existing contracts and relationships that are likely to leave the market impenetrable to Intel for the foreseeable future.

Most major mobile manufacturers (think HTC, Samsung, Apple) have a fairly strong allegiance to their past devices and the technology that's used within them — making them unlikely to swap away from ARM-designed chips any time soon, particularly given the investment that would be required to retool for Intel's x86 chip.

But Nokia on the other hand — which also uses a Qualcomm-made and ARM-designed CPU — isn't as inextricably tied to its hardware platform. For one thing, its flagship devices are yet to move to dual- or quad-core processors.

Shared history

Another factor in favour of a union is Nokia and Intel's shared history — albeit not the most successful — of working together in mobile, thanks to their collaboration on the Linux-based MeeGo mobile OS. What's more, Intel has a long relationship with Microsoft, handy given the impending release of Windows Phone 8 and Nokia's new-found commitment to Microsoft's platform.

The fact that Intel is currently using Android, as seen with Orange's San Diego smartphone, isn't much of a hindrance; Intel has already said it hasn't written off the idea of using Windows Phone 8 in future, and due to the x86 architecture, Android phones that use Intel's Atom processor won't even run all of the apps on Google Play, suggesting the relationship between Android and Intel isn't all it could be.

Orange Santa Clara
The Intel-based Orange Santa Clara phone runs Android. Image credit: Orange

By joining forces with Nokia, Intel could also avoid putting all its eggs in one basket, and linking its fate to either Google or Microsoft's mobile ambitions. Instead it would secure an existing, well-recognised smartphone brand to kick-start its own mobile plans.

As a bonus, it would also give Nokia an easy way into using the Android OS for a future range of phones, diversifying its platform options.

With ARM-designed chips dominating the market (present in somewhere around 95 percent of big brand smartphones currently on sale), Intel will need to do something significant to create any kind of impact on the market. Buying Nokia could be the sort of leftfield move it needs to help it do just that.

Topics: Smartphones, Intel, Mobility, Nokia

Ben Woods

About Ben Woods

With several years' experience covering everything in the world of telecoms and mobility, Ben's your man if it involves a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or any other piece of tech small enough to carry around with you.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

36 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Intel could likely hire many ex Nokia employees and get a Meego-like...

    Phone up and going pretty quickly ( if Intel still retains Me ego rights not sure if that was part of the partnership deal with Nokia over Me ego or not). Buying Nokia could serve to benefit many, but forcing Elop out would be a requirement !
    jkohut
    • Ben

      It's obvious this was a *** post, but it's equally obvious you are a novice on those matters.

      You should take a page from Adrian Kingsley-Hughes and Jason Perlow and come out with something like:

      * Why Apple should bvy Nokia
      * Why Intel should bvy Apple
      * Why Google should bvy Barnes and Noble
      * Why Amazon should bvy Google
      * Why Apple should bvy Samsung
      * Why Samsung should bvy Apple

      And so on. You would generate more traffic by mentioning why Apple, Google, or Amazon should do this or that, and then see the flurry of f;an:bo:ys coming here and trying to prove you wrong about their favorite company.
      markbn
      • By "*** post"

        I meant click-bait post.
        markbn
  • Go back to sleep....

    will never happen
    Sunovavic
  • Yes, Intel should by Nokia

    Microsoft + Nokia + Intel will be able to come up with great smart phones and other portable devices, with the revolutionary Windows 8 style UI.
    Liverack Dovidson
    • Microsoft should buy Intel and Nokia...

      Then, see Apple sheet its pants.
      adornoe
      • Are you sure they'd be evacuating their bowels?

        I think how Microsoft would move forward based on a presumptive purchase of Intel and Nokia would probably be based on a few factors, mainly 1) whether they would stand to make more money selling to Apple vs. hypothetical sales without Apple and 2) conditions placed on such acquisitions (I have strong doubts that regulatory bodies would let Microsoft make such a game-changing move without some sort of conditions in place).

        In any case, if selling to Apple is sufficiently lucrative, I see no reason why Microsoft would cut them off, barring maybe spite. Surely Apple's money is as good as any other company's.
        Third of Five
        • You're not looking at the whole equation or whole picture...

          If Microsoft were to purchase Intel, they could stop selling those chips to a competitor, like Apple, and, here's the kicker, Apple's sales would go to Microsoft, since, with Apple out of the PC picture, Microsoft and/or its OEM partners, would reap all the benefits of an Apple out of the "regular" PC business. Either way, MS would benefit from selling to Apple or from Apple's leaving of the PC business.

          The other side of the story would be that, Apple would not want to be a customer of Microsoft, since, Microsoft is seen by Apple as a rival and it wouldn't look Apple-like to be dependent upon Microsoft. Besides, Apple would be helping to enrich its chief rival in PCs/smartphones/tablets.

          So, whichever way one wants to look at it, Apple would be "lowered" in prestige with having to become a client of Microsoft. The Apple fanboys would be jumping off bridges and tall buildings and starving themselves to death. ;)
          adornoe
          • Forgive my skepticism

            As far as I know, most of the iDevices' CPUs are still manufactured by Samsung, and they're in global legal skirmishes with Apple. While I'm sure that Apple's search for a "plan B" in that regard is ongoing, business does make for strange bedfellows.

            As to Microsoft cutting off Apple, do you think that Apple fans would be particularly happy about that/inclined to purchase Microsoft's wares? Not to mention that AMD might be a little concerned about their future in the market.

            I'm thinking of the big picture here, not just some "whole picture". Shareholders aren't going to be too happy about Microsoft cutting off potential business prospects out of spite, and various investigative bodies around the world would not be particularly happy about Microsoft even attempting to get into that position in the first place (and I'm sure that Microsoft would not want to spend another decade or two in courtrooms throughout the world).
            Third of Five
          • Microsoft doesn't have to do business with a competitor, and,

            though we are purely speculating here, if MS did purchase Intel or merge with it, Apple could still be a client, though Apple would surely look elsewhere without MS jettisoning them from its chips business.

            AMD would still be licensing the x86 architecture from Intel which would be a division of MS, if Microsoft did purchase them. So, AMD could still operate, but, in the same capacity as it does today, which is not very promising to begin with.

            The big picture is the same as the whole picture. Microsoft would actually bring more profits from their "chips" operations, since, they could pull an Apple and charge more for their hardware. ;)

            But, being the owner of the hardware components business side, doesn't mean that they'd cut off any OEMs who did want to "partner" with MS. After all, they will be, essentially, doing the same with Windows 8 from now on, where Microsoft builds their own tablets and perhaps PCs and smartphones, while MS's partners get to license that same OS. Hardware partnerships could work the same way.

            Now, why didn't the investigative bodies around the world get involved with IBM when it was providing the computers and parts and software and support and sales and marketing for everything they produced? Why would it have to be done differently today? Apple provides the hardware and software and whole infrastructure, including their own stores, to handle everything they produce. Why would it have to be different for MS? Intel is not the only chip and cpu provider in the world anymore, and ARM is out there competing, and actually more ARM chips are sold than Intel chips. So, you might be barking up the wrong "argument".

            There is nothing that would point to another court battle if Microsoft were to start producing their own cpus/chips, or acquired a company to do so. The court battle from 10 years ago is not a good example to bring forward in the current state of technology. You need to update your arguments.
            adornoe
      • You sheet your pants all the time, adornoe

        No wonder the bathroom stinks after you've been in there.

        lol...
        CaviarBlack
        • And, like always, you like to sniff my pants all the time, Caviar,

          and, it's no wonder you like to hang around bathrooms, with your love for anything that stinks like sheet. I bet you have that stuff for breakfast, lunch and dinner, while sneaking a few smelly brown snacks in-between.
          adornoe
          • What pants, mother fukker?

            You're the mother fukker they busted for going around the airport stinkin' to high heaven with no pants.

            That's why you're known as shitty adonoe.

            lol...

            Has a good ring to it, doesn't it...

            more lol...
            CaviarBlack
          • Mother "f-er"? Are you accusing me of being your father?

            You must have me confused for some other man, because, I would have asked your mother to "abort" you (post-natal) as soon as I saw you.

            "You're the mother fukker they busted for going around the airport stinkin' to high heaven with no pants."

            And, you must have been the guy following me around that airport, looking to lick my pants, and sniff the stinkin' smell.

            Has a good ring to it, doesn't it?

            LOL!!!!!!!!
            adornoe
          • Well according to the police report

            The officer noted a strong shit odor when he stood near you, and you told him that you crapped in your pants due to all the excitement of that toe tapping you did.

            Is that true, adorne? That you lose bowel control all the time? I mean I kinda figured you were a shit bag and all that, but...

            lol... :D

            Maybe you should go for one of those adult diapers. You'll prolly need two. One for your todd's bottom and the other you can wear as a hat.

            more lol...
            CaviarBlack
  • Nokia already has multiproc arm phones for WP8.

    Unfortunately WP8 didn't allow intel which was a big problem for intel because the time was right for it. Even if it did happen though itd be ridiculously stupid for nokia to go back to offering meego or add android phones. Intel just needs to get MS to make it an option for WP8 asap. Id love to see intel WP8 phones from nokia but also Samsung and htc.
    Johnny Vegas
    • Nokia should drop WP, and sue Microsoft

      For the harm Microsoft has wrought on the Nokia name. Elop should transfer back to the Window Phone division, and Microsoft should have to cough up somewhere near $8 billion in damages.
      Jumpin Jack Flash
      • Your mommy should sue you

        because of all the harm you do to her and humanity with your obtuse comments
        markbn
        • @markbn

          Have you looked in the mirror at all today. You should.
          Bozzer
        • Did I hurt your widdle...

          feelings? To bad, grow a pair, or Shut up! Microsoft has indeed been a boat anchor around Nokia's neck. Dragging the company's value into the same sewer that Microsoft occupies, People do one choose Windows, if they have a choice, The get stuck with windows because of "Forced sales". Yes The OEMs are not in the position they should be in, due to Microsoft Management's Megalomaniac veiw of this world. Windows is but one art of a PC, not the central reason for a PC to exist. If not fr the IBM name, Microsoft would not be as popular as Linux. That's because IBM had to fix windows, because the monkeys at Microsoft couldn't write code.
          Jumpin Jack Flash