Top mobile phone and IT firms strengthen ties as two industries get ever closer

Are smartphones the future of the PC industry?

Leading firms in the mobile phone and PC markets are preparing for their worlds to fuse together, as they continue to forge cross-industry alliances to fortify themselves against a changing landscape.

PC giants Microsoft and Intel have both signed key deals with Nokia to develop a number of smartphone projects, and have told PCR how they see the two markets melding together – a situation which could have far reaching implications on all facets of the computer trade.

“The internet is driven by mobility at the moment, and the mobile and PC industries are converging,” said Nokia’s Robert Andersson, head of corporate alliances and business development.

“The mobile industry has always been a very dynamic business, one which Nokia has been involved in and leading for a very long time… The most obvious change is what people are demanding from their device, and the growth of the smartphone.”

The world’s biggest chip manufacturer Intel told us it is committed to investing ‘heavily’ in the R&D for smartphones, highlighting a wider trend in which top-level funding is flowing much more freely towards the mobile phone area.

“Our focus is on the smartphone market, with the emphasis on ‘smart’. Processing power and building the ‘brains’ of today’s computing devices is what we excel at –we have a long history to prove that,” said Rod O’Shea, EMEA ESG sales director at Intel. “As smartphones increasingly become handheld PCs we find ourselves in our ‘comfort zone’ and able to provide what is needed to move this sector forward, in terms of innovation and performance.

“Obviously we cannot do this alone, but we have good allies in the market. Personal high-performance mobile devices is where we are heading. And accessing the same content from a variety of devices is what we aim to facilitate. We call it the ‘Computing Continuum’.”

Alex Reeve, director of Microsoft UK’s mobile business group said: “The market for more powerful mobile devices has experienced dramatic acceleration over the past three years, driven in –a large part by changes in customer expectations, the technology that powers devices and the competitive landscape. The term ‘smartphone’ is getting harder and harder to define. We have seen a dramatic increase in mobile capabilities while seeing a significant decrease in cost, expanding the reach and relevance of smartphones.”

The culmination of this convergence, and the PCs industry’s increasing slant towards mobility, has the potential rebound upon even the smallest retailer, though Carolina Milanesi, research VP for mobile devices technology and service provider research at market analyst Gartner told us that won’t necessarily be a bad thing. “Yes, they are increasing the focus on mobility but I do not see this as detrimental to their computer offering but as an extension of that offering as we move more and more towards a world where we will see little difference between a smartphone, a netbook and a notebook, other than hardware form factor.”

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