The lines among handset makers, computer makers and software companies continue to blur as devices become universal and fungible. The latest example is Nokia announcing plans Monday to get into the PC business with a mini notebook computer to help bolster weak handset sales.
The Nokia Booklet 3G runs Windows software and ups the ante in the growing market for netbooks, which bridge the gap between laptops and mobile devices and are compelling companies from both sides of the equation to cooperate. Nokia and Microsoft announced a broad alliance earlier this month.
At the same time, hardware makers are entering the smartphone business, with Dell last week confirming reports it's partnering with China Mobile to introduce a device called the Mini 3i in China. Smartphones are hot and Dell wants a piece of the action, perhaps getting up to speed in China before trying to crack the U.S. market.
It's not the only one adding a smartphone to its product line. GPS device-maker Garmin last week announced the launch of its first smartphone with Taiwan-based AsusTek Computer only days after rival GPS company TomTom unveiled a $100 navigation app for the iPhone.
The revived e-book business is also attracting unlikely contenders. Last week, Taiwanese phone maker HTC and Microsoft revealed plans to create Chinese-language e-book materials for smartphones and other devices. With increasing demand for all-in-one mobile devices, don't be surprised to see more companies crossing traditional lines to enter each other's markets to compete on the same turf.