Nokia ditches Symbian for Windows Phone 7

Written by Clive Webster

February 11, 2011 // 2:35 p.m.

Tags: #cell #death-of #mobile #nokia #phone #plan #symbian #third-ecosystem #windows-phone-7

Nokia Chief Executive Stephen Elop has officially announced that Nokia will adopt Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 operating system as its ‘principal’ smartphone OS.

The move comes after Elop’s infamous ’burning platform’ memo found its way into the Wall Street Journal, highlighting the fact that Elop ‘bemoans missed opportunities and identifies multiple strategic challenges to the mobile phone company.

As the Wall Street Journal reports, Elop joined Nokia from Microsoft five months ago, so the move is perhaps even less of a shock. The Guardian live-blogged the Nokia-Microsoft announcement this morning, so you can follow all the announcements there.

The move is significant as, despite the buzz around Google’s Android OS and Apple’s iPhone, Nokia was the dominant player in the mobile phone market until very recently. However, Elop pointed out in his memo that ‘The first iPhone shipped in 2007, and we still don't have a product that is close to their experience. Android came on the scene just over two years ago, and this week they took our leadership position in smartphone volumes. Unbelievable.

The deal isn’t just for Nokia to license Windows Phone 7, however. CNet reports that the two companies are calling the agreement ‘an attempt to build a "third ecosystem," acknowledging that competing with Apple's iOS and Google's Android involves a partnership that must encompass phones, developers, mobile services, partnerships with carriers, and app stores to distribute software.

Nokia ditches Symbian for Windows Phone 7 *Nokia ditches Symbian for Windows Phone 7
The 'Third Ecosystem' sees Nokia and Microsoft closely collaborating
on all areas of Windows Phone 7 development and deployment

The Third Ecosystem involves Nokia and Microsoft developing Windows Phone 7 together, and also collaborating on marketing, software and service development, device design and practically everything else.

As the official Nokia blog, Nokia Conversations, says: ‘Nokia [won’t] just be another Windows Phone OEM. Nokia plans to help drive and define the future of the platform. That could include contributing expertise on hardware optimization, language support, customization of the software and helping bring Windows Phone to a larger range of price points, market segments and geographies.

Nokia will therefore ‘use many Microsoft online services, many of which trail Google rivals, such as Bing for search and maps and AdCenter for advertisements.’ According to CNet, though, ‘it's not immediately clear what needs to be done to make the deal final; "specific details of the deal are being worked out," the companies said.’ This matches up with the announcements from Nokia.

As the Wall Street Journal points out, ‘The company delayed the introduction of some phones. Its flagship high-end N8 smartphone, which started shipping last year, has been plagued with power problems. And the company discontinued its free music-download service, intended as a competitor to Apple's iTunes, in several markets. Google in the fourth quarter dethroned Nokia as the world's largest maker of smartphone software, according to market researcher Canalys.

The move has large ramifications on two fronts: first, such a close collaboration with Nokia could leave other handset manufacturers using Windows Phone 7 feeling like second-class partners, which could lead to defections to Android. Secondly, Nokia’s expertise could add the finishing touches to Windows Phone 7 that many felt were lacking at launch. Of course, this also brings up the question of what the future holds for Symbian.

Do you own a Windows 7 phone? Is this the right move for Nokia? Let us know your thoughts on the deal in the forums.

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