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Like two superpowers that cooperate for mutual benefit while eyeing each other warily, Nokia Corp. and Qualcomm Inc. have forged an uneasy alliance. Since the early 1990s, Qualcomm has reigned over the cell phone industry, licensing out the basic patents underlying the two main industry standards, GSM and CDMA. As the world’s leading cell phone manufacturer, with $50 billion in annual revenue, Nokia is one of Qualcomm’s most important licensees. The Finnish company has paid Qualcomm billions of dollars for the rights to so-called second-generation cell phone technology.

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