In a move that heralds future inexpensive Windows Phones, Nokia (HEL:NOK1V) is two-timing Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) for ST-Ericsson's (EPA:STM) (NASDAQ:ERIC) NovaThor range. The Johnny-come-lately supplier of system-on-a-chip (SoC) devices is proud to have picked up a new customer in what is becoming a highly-competitive market.
- On the one hand, yay for the prospect of cheaper smartphones.
- On The Other Hand, I doubt if Qualcomm will be standing still.
Plus, today's skateboarding duck: RIP, Jimmy Savile...
Mikael RicknÃ¤s repÃ¶rts:
The deal is a big win for ST-Ericsson, because Qualcomm has until now been the sole provider...for devices running Windows Phone. ... Nokia didn't elaborate...but in the past it has said it plans to release lower-priced smartphones running Microsoft's software.
The entry-level chip in [the] NovaThor range, the U5500, hints at what can be expected. ... It can handle mobile network access using HSPA+,..control a 12-Megapixel camera and record video at 720p. ... [L]ike other chips in the NovaThor range, [it] has a dual-core processor. It runs at 800MHz, the others run faster.
[It] can be used to build smartphones that cost under $200 before subsidies, according to...ST-Ericsson.
Dean Wilson adds:
Nokia has...effectively dump[ed] its previous supplier Qualcomm. ... Novathor is a relatively new entry into the smartphone market, with its first use seen in the HTC Sensation Z710t.
Today's announcement will come as a major blow to Qualcomm. ... Despite this bad news, [it] likely will still enjoy major success with builders of Android devices.
David Meyer digs deeper:
The ARM-based NovaThor platform first appeared at Mobile World Congress in February. ... [It] combines Nova-brand processors and Thor-brand modems. ... Devices that are already making use of NovaThor include [a] version of the HTC Sensation...aimed at the Chinese market, and LTE tablets from...Quanta.
ST-Ericsson was formed in February 2009 as a joint venture between Ericsson and STMicro, and is yet to turn a quarterly profit.
But why the change? Ryan Whitwam knows:
The ARM cores used in NovaThor are licensed directly from ARM Holdings, not custom designs as in the case of Qualcomm. ... [It's] designed to have the usual SoC elements and the data modem on one piece of silicon...[a] simplified and space-saving platform.
Another important part of any SoC...is the GPU. ... ST-Ericsson uses ARM Mali-400. This is a surprisingly robust mobile GPU, and has gained some notoriety by pushing the pixels for Samsung’s Exynos SoC. Mali scales anywhere from one to four cores.
NovaThor is not terribly dissimilar from Samsung’s Exynos chip when the component choices are examined. ... [Be] ready for ST-Ericsson to start competing against the more established SoC makers.
And it's not just Nokia, notes Sven Grundberg:
ST-Ericsson's Chief Executive Gilles Delfassy...highlighted that ST-Ericsson has deals with seven of the nine largest makers of handsets.
"We have disclosed five of these deals so far."
Today's Skateboarding Duck...
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Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and security. His writing has previously won American Society of Business Publication Editors and Jesse H. Neal awards. A cross-functional IT geek since 1985, you can also read Richi's full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.