Tech companies have put 3-D capabilities in televisions, movies, laptops, video games and cameras. Now it looks like smartphones could be the next target.

Nokia (NYSE: NOK) announced its opening a 3-D mobile lab with Intel (Nasdaq: INTC), but analysts are skeptical as to whether or not it can help the company gain share in the smartphone race.

Along with Finland's University of Oulu, Nokia and Intel recently announced they have opened a laboratory focused on developing 3-D capabilities on their MeeGo mobile platform. In a press release, the company said the Intel and Nokia Joint Innovation Center will attempt to leverage 3-D graphics on mobile devices similar to how it's been done in movies and video games.

"3-D technology could change the way we use our mobile devices and make our experiences with them much more immersive. Our new joint laboratory with Intel draws on the Oulu research community's 3-D interface expertise, and over time will lay down some important foundations for future mobile experiences," said Rich Green, Nokia's senior vice president and chief technical officer, in a statement.

There are several potential applications for 3-D capabilities on phones. One example is the potential to display 3-D holograms of callers. An experience, Nokia said, "Is only available in science fiction movies."

Analysts were a bit more skeptical as to whether this could be a game changer for Nokia. Mark McKechnie, analyst at Gleacher & Company, said he is not sure it will allow the company to stand out among its competitors in the smartphone industry.

"It sounds a little science fair," McKechnie said. "I can't imagine 3-D being a swing factor in the mobile operating system. I think it's going to be like cup-holders in a car. You don't choose what car you're going to buy based on that."

McKechnie says he thinks Nokia and Intel are likely to strike a deal with a content producer, such as a film studio, to bring 3-D content to their smartphones.  Chris Versace, analyst at Think 20/20, said in an email doing this would be Nokia's best move in order to make a 3-D smartphone work.

"It would seem they would have to (partner with a content provider)," Versace said. "To date Nokia has acquired music, mapping and other content under its Ovi efforts but that has translated into modest success compared to Apple, Google and others, particularly when comparing respective app stores. But it's more and more a content play, with video driving an increasing amount of data traffic both fixed (cable) and mobile."

Rather than focus on 3-D capabilities, McKechnie says Nokia should work to establish its Symbian 3 operating system. The company recently announced the N8 smartphone, which was the first of its devices to feature the new operating system.

"Getting traction for that operating system is 1,000 times more important than anything related to MeeGo or 3-D," said McKechnie, while adding it may already be too late for the company to catch up with Apple or Google in the smartphone operating system battle.

"I'm not counting them out but it would require a herculean product and marketing opportunity to make a dent in the competing ecosystem of Apple and Android," McKechnie said.

Versace agreed with McKechnie that it would take a bold move for Nokia to make up ground in the smartphone wars. He said the company would have to redefine the user experience in terms of ease of use and the ability to consume and manage content. 

While Nokia still maintains the lead for global mobile operating system usage, it's falling at a faster rate than all other competitors, most of which are gaining users. Nokia's share fell 10 percent to 41 percent in the second quarter of 2010 from 51 percent in the previous year.

International Business Times, The Global Business News Leader