ST-Ericsson chips to power Nokia Windows Phones

The deal, a major win for the as-yet unprofitable ST-Ericsson, will lead to the first Windows Phones not to use Qualcomm's Snapdragon platform and allow Nokia to make cheaper Windows Phone handsets
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

Nokia has signed up ST-Ericsson to supply processors for Windows Phone devices, a move away from its reliance on Qualcomm as sole chip provider.

Nokia Lumia 800

Nokia, which just released its Qualcomm Snapdragon-powered Lumia 800, will switch to processors supplied by ST-Ericsson for future handsets running Windows Phone 8. Photo credit: Ben Woods

The deal, announced on Wednesday, centres on ST-Ericsson's NovaThor mobile system-on-a-chip (SoC). This will appear in Nokia handsets powered by Windows Phone 8, the forthcoming update to Microsoft's smartphone operating system, according to a Dow Jones report.

"We are pleased to have been selected by Nokia as a key partner for Windows smartphones, in line with our goal to be present in all segments and major operating systems," ST-Ericsson chief Gilles Delfassy said in a statement. "Our NovaThor platforms continue to gain traction as they enable customers to bring great smartphones to the market."

The use of NovaThor is expected to enable Nokia to sell cheaper Windows Phone-based handsets in a wider range of geographic markets. The first Windows Phone from the Finnish phone maker, the Nokia Lumia 800, will cost about £400 SIM-free when it arrives on 16 November.

The deal also marks the first break with Qualcomm's processors for devices running Microsoft's mobile OS. The ARM-based NovaThor platform first appeared at Mobile World Congress in February. As with Qualcomm's Snapdragon SoC, which has powered every Windows Phone so far, NovaThor bundles application processors with modems.

ST-Ericsson's platform combines Nova-brand processors and Thor-brand modems. Both Snapdragon and NovaThor are aimed at smartphones and tablets. Devices that are already making use of NovaThor include the TD-SCDMA version of the HTC Sensation Android handset, aimed at the Chinese market, and LTE tablets from manufacturing giant Quanta.

In May, ST-Ericsson said it would get NovaThor into Windows Phones, quite likely those made by Nokia, as the two companies already have a relationship around the Symbian OS. However, even the Nokia Lumia Windows Phones launched at the end of October use Qualcomm's innards.

ST-Ericsson was formed in February 2009 as a joint venture between Ericsson and STMicro, and is yet to turn a quarterly profit.

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