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Did Nokia's selection of Windows doom Renesas Mobile?

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The only way Nokia could bring Win Mobile to market quickly was to employ Qualcomm's modem and application processor platform

USA: You may recall that in mid-2010 Renesas Electronics Corp. acquired Nokia's wireless modem operation and added the group to its new subsidiary, Renesas Mobile Corp. Renesas Electronics had licensed the Nokia modem since 2009 and the two companies had been working together to develop an industry-leading HSPA+/LTE platform.

Unfortunately for Renesas Mobile, Nokia decided to throw its future into the arms of Microsoft's Windows Mobile O/S. But the only way Nokia could bring Win Mobile to market quickly was to employ Qualcomm's readily-available modem and application processor platform (Snapdragon). It appears that move cost Renesas Mobile its biggest modem customer. Moreover, Renesas Mobile was never able to find another big customer for its own worthy multimode LTE modem that I mentioned in my last newsletter.

Renesas Electronics tried to sell the mobile subsidiary, but there are few companies who are big enough to afford absorbing the substantial wireless design staff that would go with such an acquisition. After all, the major smartphone companies already have committed modem chip relationships: Apple, HTC and Nokia with Qualcomm, Samsung with Samsung Semiconductor, Intel with its own newly-minted modem operation, etc.

There are probably a dozen Chinese companies who would love to have the Renesas Mobile technology, but most aren't big enough to absorb the Renesas headcount. That leaves licensing of the IP as probably the remaining viable option for Renesas.

The author is president and principal analyst, Forward Concepts, USA.

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