Nokia vs Google: Together at Last?

BARCELONA -- Mobile World Congress -- The ancient saying, "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer" comes to mind as Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) announced today that it will integrate Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)'s search engine into the new handsets it unveiled yesterday at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

In the battle for dominance of, or even relevance in, the mobile Internet, Nokia and Google are big rivals. The news from the show floor of the Mobile World Congress and a trawl through the blogosphere shows just how much this is the case. (See Nokia Launches Ad Network.)

Yesterday, Nokia took aim at Google Maps with a revamped mobile maps application, Nokia Maps 2.0, which will be available on Series 60 devices later this month. Location services will be a priority this year for the Finnish phone maker. (See Nokia: Is It Me You're Looking For? and Nokia Nabs Navteq for $8B.)

Nokia also introduced a new content sharing service for its Ovi-branded Internet services and four new multimedia handsets. (See Nokia Acquires Twango, Nokia Stakes Claim on Services, Nokia Stakes Claim on Services, Vodafone Opens the Ovi, Telefónica Hugs Ovi, and What's in Nokia's (en)Pocket?)

Meanwhile, Google is gunning for Nokia's mobile device dominance with its Android platform. Several prototype phones running on the new platform can be found in Barcelona, namely, from ARM Ltd. , Texas Instruments Inc. (NYSE: TXN), and Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM).

But today's announcement can be seen as somewhat of a truce, marking a shift toward greater cooperation between the two companies on search applications, because Nokia says it will ultimately make Google search available to its customers in 100 countries in 40 languages.

This isn't the first time Nokia and Google have collaborated. Google search has been available on some Nokia Internet tablets, while the Nokia N95 8 Gbyte smartphone fully supports Google's YouTube Inc.

Today's tie-up between Nokia and Google on search, coupled with other industry developments like Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)'s attempt to take over Yahoo Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO), show just how much jockeying for position there is to come as the mobile Internet evolves. Big Internet brands, mobile device manufacturers, and mobile operators are all vying for big stakes in the mobile Internet.

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Unstrung

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