Nokia and Yahoo just announced a unique partnership that will create cross-platform opportunities for both companies. Starting this summer, Yahoo will become the global provider of Nokia’s Ovi e-mail and messaging service, available on all Nokia devices. In turn, Nokia will power Yahoo’s popular maps service both online and on all of the phone supplier’s mobile devices. This deal is smart — Yahoo will be better equipped to compete in the navigation market, and Nokia can focus on capturing enterprise and business-oriented professionals in the United States.

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This isn’t Nokia’s first attempt to bolster its image in the U.S. In 2009, the phone provider struck separate deals with Microsoft and Intel to provide each company’s products on Nokia devices. Through these deals, Nokia is able to offer devices with a variety of software, allowing customers — specifically those with enterprise and business needs — greater options and accessibility.

The Yahoo deal is another way Nokia is attempting to bring their brand to the forefront by offering specialized options for customers. Nokia’s deal with Microsoft was to put Office products on certain Nokia models, fully bringing products like Word and Excel to mobile devices. Seeing as nearly 48 percent of smartphone owners use their device for business purposes, targeting those users with enterprise features is a good strategy for Nokia to potentially capture a large audience in a short amount of time. This strategy will put them in competition with RIM — currently the most popular smartphone OS in the U.S.

The new partnership, designed to build off of each company’s strengths in tech and mobile, is also an attempt to give Yahoo a boost in mobile and online navigation. In both areas, Yahoo Maps is trumped by competitors Google Maps and MapQuest. At a press conference announcing the deal on Monday, Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz admitted Yahoo has fallen a bit behind in its maps technology. “We haven’t been focused a lot on our maps platform,” she said. “This alliance changes that.”

The maps transition will be easy for both parties, as Yahoo currently uses maps from Navteq, which was bought by Nokia in 2007. The acquisition of Navteq gave Nokia a strong presence in navigation, as Navteq is one of the largest providers of digital geographic mapping information. With Nokia’s help and access to greater mapping technology, Yahoo Maps could become a viable competitor to Google, bringing greater recognition back to Yahoo overall.

On Nokia’s end, the Finland-based company has a great opportunity to expand its brand in the United States. Though it is the world’s largest phone maker, the Nokia brand is weak in the U.S., with brands like RIM’s BlackBerry, Apple, and Android dominating the smartphone market. Even in 2008, Nokia only held a 3.1 percent share of the US smartphone customers, a number that has since decreased. At Monday’s press conference, Nokia CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo said, “Location, maps and navigation will get more mind-share, will get more attention in the U.S. and many more users in the North American market.”

Nokia’s strategic partnerships with Microsoft, Intel, and now Yahoo should be a signal to other mobile brands that it shows no signs of slowing down. These brands are all recognizeable names, especially in the U.S., which helps Nokia’s goal of securing a large market share here. Yahoo still faces tough competition in Google, whose Maps app provides a number of innovative features – most recently its Earth View integration – that Yahoo just doesn’t have. However, with Nokia behind the Maps technology, Yahoo can focus its efforts on building content and strengthening its other services, allowing Nokia to focus on building software-targeted devices to win more customers and secure its place in the US smartphone market.

Feature image by mikecco from Stock.Xchng.