One interesting story thread that’s been dragging along since mid-2011 is the role of ST-Ericsson in Nokia’s Windows Phone commitment. As many know, current Windows Phones are all powered by Qualcomm chipsets but there’s no exclusivity deal in place and there have been rumors that Apollo will introduce support for processors by other manufacturers. Way before we even started mumbling about Apollo and even the “Sea Ray”, ST-Ericsson came out to claim that Nokia Windows Phones would be powered by their dual-core NovaThor processsors and they repeated that publicly throughout the year.
Unfortunately Microsoft’s speed to support ST-Ericsson hasn’t come fast enough as Reuters reports that the company is facing major restructuring in order to stay in business. There’s also talk that the venture could be acquired by any of their competitors like AMD, Intel, NVIDIA, or Texas Instruments. The article specifically points to Nokia’s transition away from Symbian as a key reason for the company’s hard times:
ST-Ericsson was hit hard by the demise of Nokia’s Symbian smartphone platform, whose market share has shrunk from 50 percent to just 10 percent in a couple of years as Apple Inc and Google Inc stormed the market.
In February 2011, Nokia also decided to switch its software in favor of Microsoft Corp’s Windows Phone.
So far, Qualcomm has been the sole supplier of chipsets for Windows Phone, whose market share is only around 2 percent; but ST-Ericsson has unveiled a design win for Nokia’s upcoming Windows 8 phones.
That last piece of info seems to confirm that ST-Ericsson really did have a deal in place with Nokia to have its NovaThor chipsets in Windows Phone 8 devices. The real question now is whether or not that’s still going to happen, especially if the company is bought out which risks killing the whole deal depending on how things play out. It’s an interesting story that we’ll be following as it evolves, so we’ll make sure to keep a close eye on ST-Ericsson in the future.