Nokia Embraces Windows Phone 7, Kills Off Symbian OS

Nokia’s CEO Stephen Elop has confirmed that Nokia will adopt Microsoft’s Windows Phone as its primary smartphone strategy. Not only that, the company has also announced a “Broad strategic partnership” with Microsoft “that combines the respective strengths of our companies and builds a new global mobile ecosystem.”

Before announcement, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop had stated that Nokia needed to “decide how we either build, catalyze or join an ecosystem” to change its fortunes. In the end it decided to partner with Microsoft and join the Windows Phone 7 ecosystem.

Nokia had approached Google about using its Android OS, but ultimately decided it didn’t want to play in a commodity market, Elop said. Adopting Android would also give Google too much of the services revenue associated with the phones, he said.

In the competition between mobile phone manufacturers and OS vendors to make their platforms more attractive to developers and customers, Research In Motion isn’t even in the running, according to Elop. “This is now a three-horse race,” he said.

In its partnership with Microsoft, Nokia will contribute its hardware design and language support, and help bring Windows Phone to a larger range of price points, market segments and geographies, the companies said in an open letter from Elop and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

Nokia won’t abandon its own platforms, Symbian and MeeGo, yet. The company still plans to put out a “MeeGo-related” product later this year, it said.

With the new strategy, Nokia is hoping to put an end to a downward spiral that started in 2007, the year in which the first version of Apple’s iPhone arrived and Google announced Android.

At the time, Nokia’s smartphone market share was almost 50 percent for the full year, compared to Apple’s 2.7 percent, according to Gartner. The first Android-based phone still hadn’t arrived. But by the fourth quarter of 2010, Nokia’s market share had dropped to 30.8 percent, Android had caught up and Apple had increased its market share to 16 percent.

Friday’s change is an admission that its own platform has faltered, and by going with Windows Phone 7, the company is no longer in control of its own destiny, Wood said.

Other services will also get joined together. OviMaps will be integrated with Bing Maps to improve Microsoft’s offering, and Nokia’s content store will be folded into Microsoft’s Marketplace. As you would expect, both Office and Xbox Live will also be making their way to Nokia handsets. The announcement is exciting, not because it means there will yet another Windows Phone maker on the market, but because Nokia will actively work with Microsoft to improve the mobile OS, and expand the ecosystem in a legitimate attempt to challenge Android and iOS.

Checkout the video announcement.


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