3 Tech Tag Teams That Should Take On Apple

Smartphone manufacturers like Nokia (NYSE:NOK) and Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM), as well as software giants like Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) are all thinking the same thought this week: Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) must be stopped.

With more than 16 million iPhones and 7.3 million iPads sold during the last three months of 2010 alone  — as well as  $6 billion in profit — Apple’s sales momentum likely won’t see the usual quarterly dip that follows a productive holiday season. If the other companies in the mobile computing world hope to strike back against the iEmpire, the time is now.

Strength, they say, is in numbers, so strategic partnerships between old rivals may be the only way to take down Apple in 2011 and beyond. New alliances will be forged when certain players in the mobile industry wake up and realize that proprietary operating systems aren’t the way to go in a future when smartphone and tablet applications are a dominant source of revenue. Why should a software developer bother to build its new video game or GPS-based restaurant review software for four different platforms when it’s only going to sell well on Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android?

Here are three technology team-ups that could take on Apple:

Nokia and Microsoft

All Things Digital’s John Paczkowski and Canccord Genuity analyst T. Michael Walkley have both written that it’s time for Nokia to finally abandon the Symbian^3 and MeeGo operating systems it has put so much time and effort into fostering. With each passing day, Nokia’s dominance of the mobile phone market continues to fade as the company’s attempts to bolster its smartphone business fall flat.

If Nokia were to release a high-end device running the Window Phone 7 operating system in mid-to-late 2011 — a phone built for the burgeoning 4G networks across the U.S. and Europe — it would give both Nokia and Microsoft a fighting chance in the market. Nokia would benefit from having Microsoft’s app developer-friendly platform on their handhelds alongside marketable perks like the Xbox Live gaming network, while Microsoft’s mobile platform would get a boost out of a manufacturer whose worldwide presence is still a force to be reckoned with. Given Nokia CEO Stephen Elop’s positive history at Microsoft, this pairing could be perfect.

Research In Motion and Google

RIM cannot state enough times that it will not abandon the BlackBerry-branded operating system in its devices. Co-CEO Mike Lazaridis has commented over the past few months that the new QNX-developed BlackBerry Tablet OS represents the future of the BlackBerry brand on both tablets and smartphones alike. From another point of view, however, it might be RIM’s last effort to keep its proprietary operating systems relevant. As the company watches its stable of business clients move to Apple’s iPhone, and comes to rely more and more on consumer sales, the time has come for RIM to face facts: It needs more popular software. By partnering with Google, RIM could fundamentally change BlackBerry to a populist brand. The new BlackBerry Android line could be positioned as the all-purpose device for young professionals, with the business tools that made RIM so successful last decade coupled with the software library and functionality that has helped Android erode such a significant chunk of RIM’s market share. The likelihood of this partnership happening depends largely on whether or not the PlayBook tablet is successful this year.

Hewlett-Packard and Google

In fairness, this partnership is rumored to have already formed and then disintegrated. Hewlett-Packard (NASDAQ:HPQ) announced multiple Android tablet PCs in 2010, none of which saw wide release. H-P did test the tablet waters last fall with the Windows 7-powered Slate 500, but just 5,000 tablets were made. H-P is expected to unveil its major tablet strategy on Feb. 9, when it will likely announce the PalmPad, a device running a new version of the WebOS operating system made by H-P’s Palm unit.

H-P would be wise to not put all its hopes in the tablet market on this one device, especially given how diminished the Palm brand has become in recent years. Rather than push Palm’s WebOS, H-P has the unique opportunity to be the first major U.S. computer manufacturer to challenge mobile phone manufacturers in the tablet market. Release an affordable tablet running Android 3.0 that’s not quite as powerful as Motorola’s (NYSE:MMI) Xoom, but that’s more impressive than budget alternatives like Vizio’s Via Tablet, and H-P can do for tablets what they did for notebook PCs.

As of this writing, Anthony John Agnello did not own a position in any of the stocks named here.

Article printed from InvestorPlace Media, https://investorplace.com/2011/01/3-tech-tag-teams-that-should-take-on-apple/.

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