Nokia in wide-ranging deal with Xiaomi, going well beyond handsets

Nokia may be a spent force in smartphones since selling its devices business to Microsoft, but it still aims to be the power behind the throne of other vendors via its technology licensing program. Its technology, and its venerable brand, are already enabling new smartphones from Finnish start-up HCL, and tablets from Foxconn. Now it has upped its game with a licensing and collaboration deal with a bona fide handset giant, China’s Xiaomi.

The companies have announced a smartphone patent cross-licensing deal, but they are also cooperating with a business deal in another area – Nokia will provide networking equipment, including IP routing and data center interconnect gear, apparently to help Xiaomi serve large service providers and enterprises.

It seems that the Chinese firm – which after an initial growth spurt has started to lose smartphone ground to compatriots Huawei, Oppo and Vivo – is looking to diversify its efforts, with Nokia to help.

Nokia said it will provide infrastructure to meet “high capacity, low power requirements by web providers and data center operators, and the companies will work together on optical transport solutions for data center interconnect, IP routing and a data center fabric offering.” Other areas of potential collaboration are Internet of Things, augmented and virtual reality, and artificial intelligence.

“Xiaomi is one of the world’s leading smartphone manufacturers and we are delighted to have reached an agreement with them,” said Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri. “In addition to welcoming such a prominent global technology company to our family of patent licensees, we look forward to working together on a wide range of strategic projects.”

His counterpart at Xiaomi, Lei Jun, said: “Our collaboration with Nokia will enable us to tap on its leadership in building large, high performance networks and formidable strength in software and services, as we seek to create even more remarkable products and services that deliver the best user experience to our Mi fans worldwide.”