Nokia, Yahoo partner on Project Nike

In a move that has been widely expected for the past few weeks, Yahoo and Nokia have gone public: Nokia will build Yahoo e-mail, search and other applications and services into a range of its cell phones. Under terms of the alliance, Yahoo will become the exclusive worldwide provider of Nokia’s Ovi Mail and Ovi Chat services, which will be branded “powered by Yahoo.” Nokia will also be the exclusive worldwide provider of Yahoo maps and navigation services across Yahoo properties, branded “powered by Ovi.”

The move is seen as a way for Nokia to have a bigger presence in North America, via Yahoo’s e-mail and instant messaging (IM); an estimated 300 million Yahoo users send 100 billion e-mail messages and a billion IMs a month. Meanwhile, Yahoo will benefit from Nokia’s Navteq digital maps and navigation for more location-based services.

The deal does not include plans for a Yahoo-branded Nokia handset or an agreement to enter the mobile advertising arena. Some industry watchers interpret the new relationship as a move by both companies to boost their relevance in an increasingly competitive mobile environment.