The epic rivalry between Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) is legendary. The original point of debate centered on which company was more integral to making PCs. Today the war's moved to a new front: the smartphones, or the computers of tomorrow (after desktops become as antiquated and as useful as paperweights).

Yesterday Intel, cell-phone maker Nokia (NYSE:NOK), and Symbian, which makes Nokia's software, announced they are forming an alliance to rule the smartphone industry and oppose Mr. Softy's empire. For months Microsoft has been trying to make inroads into the market for cell phones, hoping to leverage its brand and experience writing code for the PC market into a dominant position in this new computing medium. Already, it's attracted at least one defector from the Symbian OS platform into its circle of influence: Motorola (NYSE:MOT).

To combat the looming Microsoft menace, the new Intel-Nokia-Symbian triumvirate will work cooperatively. Intel will make the chips, Symbian will write the code, and Nokia will assemble and package it in a fashionable shell. What's it all mean for investors? Several possibilities come to mind.

First, recall that Nokia is the leader in smartphone sales, and roughly 80% of all smartphones on the market run on Symbian software. Adding an ally of Intel's heft to this dominant duo should significantly hinder competitors' ability to steal market share from either Nokia or Symbian. At the same time, it assists Intel's bid to gain a foothold in this market. On the other hand -- the receiving end of this news -- are companies such as Texas Instruments (NYSE:TXN), which currently counts Nokia as one of its biggest customers. Nokia's hookup with rival chip maker Intel does not bode well for TI's future revenues. Also, chip makers Philips (NYSE:PHG) and STMicroelectronics (NYSE:STM) will likely be hurt by the new alliance.

Put simply, the Intel-Nokia-Symbian alliance is going to be much stronger than the sum of its parts. Today was not an especially good day for the new triumvirate's competitors.

For Foolish coverage of Symbian, read:

Fool contributor Rich Smith owns shares of Nokia.