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Intel Businesses Cellphones

Why Intel Should Buy Nokia 200

Posted by Soulskill
from the desperately-seeking-sales dept.
An opinion piece at ZDNet makes the case that Intel is the best match for struggling handset-maker Nokia, arguing that Intel needs help breaking into the smartphone market and Nokia isn't tied as tightly to Qualcomm/ARM hardware as other vendors. From the article: "Another factor in favor 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."
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Why Intel Should Buy Nokia

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  • No. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by obarthelemy (160321) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @05:21PM (#40880359)

    Nokia is wedded to MS. Intel needs to be more flexible than that, especially since WinPhone is in freefall, and Nokia isn't even trying at tablets.

    Dell or HP should buy Nokia, it's their last chance to make it in the mobile space.

    • Re:No. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Telvin_3d (855514) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @05:38PM (#40880483)

      Never happen. Nokia's market cap is hovering just under 10B. Dell's is 20B and HP's 35B. So for Dell to buy Nokia they would have to hand over HALF of their entire company to Nokia's current investors. HP is not in a much better ratio. Never, in a million years, could that happen.

      Frankly, there are not many companies big enough to buy Nokia, particularly in the tech sector. Microsoft would be one. Google another and Apple would be about it. Apple would be buying them for the patents and the other two if they plan to go into first party manufacturing and design in a big way.

      Assuming Nokia doesn't pull out of the death spiral the most likely outcome is that no one buys them outright. A big consortium of companies buys all the patents just to get them off the table and the rest of the company dies.

      • Re:No. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by rtfa-troll (1340807) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @05:56PM (#40880637)

        Your analysis seems pretty right but you've missed that breaking up Nokia can finance quite a bit of the cost of a bid.

        As ever; Tommi Ahonen has about the best analysis about this [blogs.com]. Beside the three you have named there are companies like LG or ZTE which could get quite a bit out of the "dumbphone" divisions. With Nokia's current strategy, where it's smart phones are barely selling outside Finland and the US, Nokia can't really get future value out of that division. Almost any company that can deliver Android, however, could use the dumbphone distribution network to get its self into the best position in most of the new upcoming smartphone markets.

        One of the key things seems to me that a live buy of Nokia has to happen extremely soon so that Nokia still retains some experties outside the Windows phones and it looks like Steven Elop is trying to make that as difficult as possible.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 04, 2012 @11:04PM (#40882751)

          Seriously, Nokia is a handset maker, they have free choice of everything, processors, software the lot. Their problems began when they tied their own hands behind their backs, hired Elop and restricted themselves to making only Microsoft phones.

          Samsung on the other hand, made Android, Bada, Microsoft, everything under the sun, and found what worked in what markets.

          So I don't see how tying themselves to Intel and using the LESS popular CPU with the not so great power consumption would somehow be a good thing.

          At this point they need to eject Elop, get a pragmatic COMPETENT boss in place, and start making phones that sell instead of phones they already know don't sell.

          Elop is the problem here, not Nokia.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by rtfa-troll (1340807)
            You are right I guess; even now switching back to a "produce everything we can sell" strategy could save Nokia. The problem is that you clearly have to get rid of Elop to achieve this; the primary thing which is killing Nokia is things he has said, so everthing he ever did needs to be completely repudiated. Probably this needs a complete change of the board of directors and that can't be done without a buy out. The real question is: "why are the big shareholder's sleeping on the job?".
          • Elop is the problem here, not Nokia.

            Amen, brother.

        • by Luckyo (1726890)

          It's far too late for that. Elop has already been successful in either killing or outsourcing essentially everything not winphone related. In addition to this nokia is most likely tied to microsoft contractually with significant fines on breakage, making for a nice poison pill for any microsoft's competitor to try to get out of microsoft ties upon buying nokia.

          • Re:No. (Score:4, Interesting)

            by rtfa-troll (1340807) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @07:33AM (#40885231)

            [..] Nokia is most likely tied to microsoft contractually with significant fines on breakage, making for a nice poison pill for any microsoft's competitor [..]

            Tommi Ahonen's argument is that these contracts are clearly actions of an agent of Microsoft and so those contracts could be invalidated. I'm not well exactly that would work, but it's definitely true that Microsoft has always been very arrogant in such matters just expecting to get away with things. There are quite a few things in Microsoft's operations which look very clever, but are actually very risky. People like Sendo and Lindows have managed to get a fair bit of money out of them.

            One of the main things, for example, is that Microsoft always involves lawyers in any discussion of contract negotiations. This looks clever since it means that all such discussions are in theory "undiscoverable" and so not usable in courst. However, it also opens up Microsoft's lawyers to conspiracy in things such as destruction of evidence. If a sufficiently aggressive and clever attacker manages to threaten the MS lawyers with something which looks like jail time they will sing like Nightingales.

            Probably someone who was willing to persue a really aggressive litigation strategy against Microsoft could get most of the cost of the Nokia purchase out of them in a legal settlement, free themselves of all sorts of legal restrain and get a very excellent deal on patent liability protection.

      • by rrohbeck (944847)

        Don't worry, Nokia's market cap will come down.
        And I think Microsoft should buy them. Now that they started alienating HW manufacturers they might as well get serious about it.

      • by HiThere (15173)

        Well, you could wait a year or two. Given the current management there'll be lots of companies that will be able to buy it at that point.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Nokia's market cap is hovering just under 10B.

        It's $8.8 billion US dollars NOW, (not "just under 10"), but it's been falling pretty damned fast. All they would have to do is wait. A year ago their stock price was in the 7's. Now, it's 2.27. Expectations are that it continues to drop over the next year as the company comes unglued from its failure to adapt to the smartphone market. Earnings per share is *negative*, and they are laying off people.

        All a potential purchaser has to do is wait.

      • Google already bought Motorola. They don't need another cellphone manufacturer.
    • Dell just bought Quest for $2.4 billion. Don't think they will be making any other major acquisitions so soon. Then again looking at nokia's stock price I wouldn't call it major.

  • Nokia is in imminent danger of leaving the mobile phone industry in favour of becoming an outsourced excrement distributor. This could be their last chance of avoiding that and giving their customers what they really want, thereby surviving: Nokia Android handsets/tablets.

  • by MtHuurne (602934) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @05:44PM (#40880539) Homepage

    Since we're speculating wildly, what about this scenario: Intel buying RIM and Qt. Nokia isn't using Qt anymore for new development and is looking for a buyer. RIM is switching to Qt and Intel has Qt experience from MeeGo. RIM is looking for a niche market rather than compete head-on with iOS and Android (see the recent interview with the CEO), so an Intel-owned RIM would be less of a direct competitor to Apple and Android manufacturers, which would increase the chances of them adopting Intel CPU's in the future. After all, getting into the mobile market would not be a goal in itself, just a way to sell more CPU's.

    • Certainly seems like a more viable buy to get Qt than their McAfee deal which never made any sense to me.
    • by gbjbaanb (229885)

      After all, getting into the mobile market would not be a goal in itself, just a way to sell more CPU's.

      true... and with the rise and rise of ARM chips, Intel badly needs some other marketplace for its x86 range, including Atom. I guess no-one will really bother to port Android to Atom, and iPhones won't use it, so it makes sense for Intel to buy Nokia simply to give itself a good market.

      What happens with Microsoft afterwards though... can you see MS dropping ARM support for all its OSes once Intel says "let

  • by tlambert (566799) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @05:45PM (#40880551)

    It's very similar to the early days of electrical distribution; when it became very clear that AC had won, you wouldn't go out and invest lots of money into companies producing DC generating equipment.

    The article suggests that they step away from a Qualcomm Snapdragon based phone and move to Intel processors; but if they did so, they'd still need an ARM-based system to run the SDR on to get network connectivity, and they'd still pay the $35/device Qualcomm tax in any event to get CDMA connectivity for the U.S. Verizon/Sprint market. So a move to Intel does nothing but raise their price and their power consumption.

    On the other side of the coin, Intel pretty much shot itself in the head when it comes to the mobile phone market when they sold StrongARM off to Marvell in 2006, before they had anything that could compete with it in terms of power consumption/performance ratio. Buying back into ARM now isn't going to help them in this regard.

    All in all, it'd probably be a match made in hell for both companies.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Intel pretty much shot itself in the head when it comes to the mobile phone market when they sold StrongARM off to Marvell in 2006, before they had anything that could compete with it in terms of power consumption/performance ratio

      My understanding (and I'd love some citations either way) is that they weren't able to make it competitive and keep it low-power at the same time in any case.

      • by tlambert (566799) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @08:41PM (#40881827)

        This takes going through a bit of a chain of events, but it's pretty clear that it was Intel's management of the people and the engineering constraints under which they operated, rather than the inability of the engineers themselves not being up to the task:

        StrongARM was sold by DEC to Intel:
        PP3: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/StrongARM#History [wikipedia.org]

        Former StrongARM engineers quit Intel for SiByte:
        PP4: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/StrongARM#History [wikipedia.org]

        Broadcom acquires SiByte December 2000:
        Row 17: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broadcom#Acquisitions [wikipedia.org]

        Founder of SiByte leaves Broadcomm to found P.A. Semi:
        PP6: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_W._Dobberpuhl [wikipedia.org]

        P.A. Semi makes fast, power efficient Power Architecture processors (PWRficient):
        PP1: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P.A._Semi#History [wikipedia.org]

        P.A. Semi acquired by Apple in April 2008:
        PP1: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P.A._Semi#Acquisition_by_Apple [wikipedia.org]

        P.A. Semi team at Apple tasked with creation of fast, power efficient ARM processors:
        PP2: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P.A._Semi#Acquisition_by_Apple [wikipedia.org] ...as I said: before, it's probably be a match made in hell for both companies. Intel demonstrably does not currently have the necessary management skills to deal with the problem of power consumption/performance ratio, and has little incentive to actually chase that market down, since it would cannibalize their high end performance market, given that electrical power costs continue to Enron upward.

        It might be possible for Intel to incorporate a wholly owned subsidiary to try and keep things at arms length, but it's pretty clear that the tablet market and smart phone market are driving adoption of low power consumption/performance ratio processors pretty strongly, and things like the Motorola Atrix and ASUS Transformer are starting to target the desktop market, as well.

        It's only a matter of time before Broadcom documents the GPU in the chip used in the Raspberry Pi, or someone else does something similar, and the desktop stranglehold on GPU accelerated graphics will be blown away to the point that Intel putting under-powered GPUs in their low end chips to avoid caniibalizing the market for their high end chips will completely blow them out of the low end of the market altogether.

        The only reason Intel might be able to make some (short term) inroads into the smart phone market would be carrier subsidy of the handset price. This is something that's not happening in the tablet space, and so they won't get the same foothold there. As the tablet market continues to heat up with a slope much steeper than the smart phone adoption rate of anyone other than the earlier iPhone models, they aren't going to be able to rely on subsidy.

        Intel could perhaps launch a "game changer" by cutting out the cellular service providers entirely, and killing the monthly billing that permits the handset subsidy in the first place (a quick way would be to deploy mesh networking with last-hop access to WiFi to undercut 3G/4G), but that is unlike Intel to be that forward thinking (e.g. you can still boot DOS 1.0 on their most recent processors, and that's limited their technology vector considerably). And doing so would vastly undercut the market for carrier subsidized handsets, which is precisely Nokia's market.

        And then we are back to it being a match made in hell for both companies.

      • by symbolset (646467) *
        Not invented here syndrome.
  • by symbolset (646467) * on Saturday August 04, 2012 @05:47PM (#40880571) Homepage Journal
    Nobody is going to buy Nokia. Intel isn't a good fit. They're trimming the company down to where it can fit in a filing cabinet managed by a couple paralegals.
    • by rrohbeck (944847)

      Yes, Nokia might make a great patent troll once they give up on making phones.

      • by symbolset (646467) *
        I'm sure that the filing cabinet just to the left is marked "Sendo", and the one to the right is marked "HP".
  • by Bert64 (520050) <bert@slash d o t . f i renzee.com> on Saturday August 04, 2012 @06:16PM (#40880781) Homepage

    Intel have never had any success in mobile...
    Nokia are falling fast...
    And MS are somewhere between, never had much success and also seem to be falling, albeit from a much lower height than Nokia.

    Why would 3 failures of the mobile market want to get together?

    • by Anachragnome (1008495) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @06:33PM (#40880885)

      "Why would 3 failures of the mobile market want to get together?"

      Epic fail?

    • Intel have never had any success in mobile...
      Nokia are falling fast...
      And MS are somewhere between, never had much success and also seem to be falling, albeit from a much lower height than Nokia.

      Why would 3 failures of the mobile market want to get together?

      Because misery loves company.

    • by Kergan (780543)

      Why would 3 failures of the mobile market want to get together?

      Because three turkeys make an eagle [engadget.com].

  • I wish technology journalists would cover actual events instead of playing "If I were CEO" games.

  • by EmperorOfCanada (1332175) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @06:27PM (#40880847) Homepage
    All I care about is that QT ends up surviving and being independent again. As for Nokia they can rot back in the 90s where they seem to be stuck.

    If Nokia had had half a brain they would have made QT for iPhone and then Android so that people could port their iPhone apps quickly to Android, Windows, Mac, Linux, Window Mobile, and oh yes the Nokia phones. Nokia would have then become the center of the app universe while their own app library would have grown somewhat. I reluctantly learned Objective-C and have little desire to relearn Java so that I can port my iPhone apps to android. So with a C++ code once and tweak a bunch of times portability I would have been very happy.

    My worry is that they will pull the rug on QT and then sell the carcass off to some group one step away from being a patent troll.
    • by gbjbaanb (229885)

      they were making it , but obviously no-one knows how much support it'll get in the future. [nokia.com]

      You can keep most of your stuff in C++, most of the games on my Android are written using the NDK (so ignore the BS about Java being the best platform for android, its just the simplest). I understand you can call all your C++ code from objective-C so you only really need that for the UI if you structure your code well.

    • by fnj (64210) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @09:54PM (#40882317)

      Rest easy. Qt is GPL. Nobody can put a GPL'ed project back in the box. Anybody can fork a GPL project.

      • by cpghost (719344)
        You are confusing Copyright with Patents. Qt is GPLed only w.r.t. Copyright. If it contains patented code, and a patent troll acquires this, Qt won't be a viable option in the OSS world, even if it is GPLed.
        • by fnj (64210)

          What the heck are you talking about? GPL is a license, not a copyright. Copyright is the stick with which you enforce GPL. And patents are a separate issue. They have nothing to do with either copyright or license. Any software job can be attacked via patents, equally if it is open or closed source.

  • Quite simply if you aren't selling a phone with an ecosystem like google play, itunes, etc...I dont think you have a valid product. Intel doesn't have an ecosystem. Nokia doesn't have an ecosystem. And who the hell would spend billions to knock out a 'me too' android phone. Who would want it?

    Further, nobody in management at Intel has an inkling about cell phone level customer service, needs, interests...errr....or much of anything. About the closest they come to that is selling cpu's, motherboards and

  • Even if they're competitive with the last generation of ARM on energy-efficiency, they aren't competitive in cost-efficiency.

    Secondly, you don't get the flexibility of being in charge of the fabrication process.

    The only real advantage of Intel is running Windows proper which means the netbook market or possibly the tablet market.

  • In other news, it's not the first nor the last time zdnet publishes idiotic opinion pieces

    http://www.google.com/search?q=claim+chowder+site:daringfireball.net+link:zdnet.com [google.com]

    What's to buy at Nokia? Like RIM, they laughed out loud when the iPhone came out, all the way to their current situation, and likely into bankruptcy. Where I feel sorry for the employees (I couldn't bother shedding a tear for the shareholders) is that they won't manage to pull out a Motorola, meaning they'll be bought at the vilest possi

  • by RudyHartmann (1032120) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @06:44PM (#40880973)

    Nokia has been a huge supporter of Windows for mobile phones. Microsoft has tried harder than anybody has without making any progress with their own phones. Remember the "Kin"? If Microsoft intends to continue trying, they'll have to keep Nokia's patent portfolio away from the other mobile phone manufacturers. Microsoft needs to buy Nokia for this very purpose.

    • by Tanuki64 (989726)

      Microsoft needs to buy Nokia for this very purpose.

      And to sabotage Qt, which is too anti vendor lock-in.

      • by 21mhz (443080)

        The existence of Qt is hardly relevant for Microsoft.
        If anything, it allows more software to be portable to Windows, and soon to Windows Phone as well, especially if Qt will be ported to WinRT APIs.

        • by Tanuki64 (989726)

          If anything, it allows more software to be portable to Windows,

          ...and to Linux, and to OSX, Android. Microsoft is slowly losing its almost total control over the desktop. And if software is easily ported to practically all relevant platforms this process speeds up. Why would someone pay for Windows when he can get all programs for all platforms? Even worse, as soon as Qt for Android is 100% complete, why should developers develop solely for Windows phones when they can make profit from Android and maybe i

          • by Microlith (54737)

            Qt isn't that huge a concern for Microsoft. Far more was the fact that no one was really interested in putting out Windows Phone devices, most made a half-hearted effort that was likely the result of legal shenanigans rather than any honest desire to produce a handset.

            Nokia didn't get fucked so much as suffer a coup d'etat via their board of directors. It's effectively owned by Microsoft without Microsoft having to spend the money to acquire it (instead, pushing the losses off on the shareholders.) And they

          • by 21mhz (443080)

            Even worse, as soon as Qt for Android is 100% complete, why should developers develop solely for Windows phones when they can make profit from Android and maybe iOS as well?

            I thought their greatest problem with Windows Phone is that hardly anybody develops solely for this platform now, and attracting some of the established iOS/Android developers with easier porting paths would be a win?

            Really, stop blowing issues out of proportion. Microsoft is unlikely to be much concerned about Qt, and even if they are, they are probably smart enough to know that it cannot be shut down by corporate shenanigans.

        • The QT Toolkit from Nokia is what underlies KDE. KDE is the most Windows like interface for Linux and BSD. With all the ports to Linux in the works, Microsoft could slow this down if they bought Nokia and changed the license terms of QT. Oracle bought Sun and then changed the license to Open Office. Whereas Open Office had been gaining acceptance and support, Oracle's modification of the license changed halted the inertia Open Office had been gaining.

          Microsoft cannot stop the inevitable mass adaptation of d

          • by 21mhz (443080)

            Thanks for the funny comment. Is this really the year of Linux on the desktop, and the installations of KDE threaten the market position of Windows?

            Oracle bought Sun and then changed the license to Open Office. Whereas Open Office had been gaining acceptance and support, Oracle's modification of the license changed halted the inertia Open Office had been gaining.

            Oh that succeeded wonderfully [libreoffice.org], didn't it?

      • by fnj (64210)

        They can't sabotage Qt. Qt is GPL.

    • by Tanuki64 (989726)

      Microsoft needs to buy Nokia for this very purpose.

      Question is: Can Microsoft buy Nokia? With ex-Microsoft Elop as CEO Nokia's slow decline turned into a rapid downfall in surprisingly short time. When now Microsoft buys Nokia one might ask some very inconvenient questions.

    • by symbolset (646467) * on Saturday August 04, 2012 @11:32PM (#40882927) Homepage Journal
      Why buy the cow when the milk is free? They already have everything they want from Nokia.
  • by Chuck Chunder (21021) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @07:46PM (#40881427) Homepage Journal
    Apple seemed to do a fairly good job of doing it more or less on their own. Why buy one of these old dinosaurs who have (unfortunately from them) all their really critical IP available under FRAND terms?
  • Nokia did a fantastic job of reinventing itself after realizing the lumber industry was no longer a viable business for them. The kind of culture that Nokia has is more likely to succeed by reinventing itself if the wireless phone industry is no longer a viable business for them. The purchase of Scandinavian companies (think Saab and Volvo) have not been good for the companies or their employees.

  • Is that even possible? Is there a VM layer like Android's Dalvik or is software written directly to a particular arch? If not, I don't see Intel biting.

  • There's no longer any point in buying Nokia except for the patents. Eventually they'll be bought by Apple or Google, and everything except the legal department will be shut down.

    It's very sad to see this happen to Nokia - I've worked with them a lot and they used to have some top-notch engineers (and a lot of incompetant management too, which is how they got into this mess). The most talented engineers fled as soon as the Windows announcement was made, and the Elop has been systematically stamping out the

    • by symbolset (646467) *
      If, as seems likely, the patents are already licensed to Microsoft they are almost wothless to Apple and Gooogle.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The most talented engineers fled as soon as the Windows announcement was made

      I hate seeing this. Prove it. A lot of the MeeGo/Maemo guys stayed on to work on Meltemi. The Qt guys didn't go anywhere... so who are these talented engineers that left? I worked with the Meltemi team and can tell you that they were insanely good. That OS and Qt were the only things keeping me at the company.

      • by Ami Ganguli (921)

        No arguments about the Qt and Meltemi guys. That was my point about Elop killing off the last bits of talent that remained. I was also hoping that the Meltemi and Qt guys would outlive Elop's reign and help the company recover from that idiot. I've never worked for Nokia, but I've worked for a supplier, and spent a lot of time in Espoo. I was rooting for you guys.

        I can't really prove that the best people left when the Windows announcement came, but a lot of people did (and I kow they were good). Ok, th

  • by Junta (36770)

    The premise is flawed. If Nokia were the holy grail of getting your foot in the door to the mobile arena, MS would have fared better by now.

    Nokia did exceptionally well and clearly 'got' one generation of phone devices right. That success has not translated to the current state of affairs. If it had, then there wouldn't be so many opportunities for other vendors to exploit Nokia desperation to use their name to advance their agenda.

  • (Successful company A) should buy (failing company B)! It would be great! Yeah, that's the ticket!

    What they leave out is the fact that in nearly all cases, the successful company can get anything it wants that the failing company might have, for far less than the cost to buy the failing company (plus the costs of integrating the acquired company into the parent.)

    -jcr

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