Nokia and Qualcomm announced today that they are to collaborate on the development of WCDMA handsets, initially for the US market. 

It is a pairing that would have been unthinkable a year ago, when the two firms were locked in a legal battle that had lasted several years, and spanned several continents. That wrangle, over royalty payments from Nokia to Qualcomm, was finally settled in July 2008.

Now the two firms are to co-produce handsets based on the S60 platform that Nokia developed for the Symbian OS, using Qualcomm’s Mobile Station Modem chipsets.

Nokia and Qualcomm are leaders in advanced wireless technologies, and this new level of cooperation would bring exceptional leaps in mobile performance to people around the world,” said Steve Mollenkopf, executive vice president of Qualcomm and president of Qualcomm CDMA  Technologies.

Carolina Milanesi, research director for Gartner’s Mobile Devices unit described the deal as a “win-win”.

“In today’s environment, Qualcomm needs Nokia just as much as Nokia needs Qualcomm,” she told telecoms.com.  “3G will be the next battleground in the low end handset space and Nokia needs to make sure that the Chinese vendors don’t get the upper hand in this market,” she said.

The two vendors have said the first jointly produced handset will be available in mid-2010, and will be compatible with the forthcoming Symbian Foundation platform.