No, Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) and Nokia (NYSE: NOK) have not picked up the pace on releasing the first Nokia/Microsoft smartphone, which is only due towards the end of this year. But in a first for Microsoft, Nokia will be adding Microsoft content to Nokia’s existing Symbian OS, including popular Microsoft apps like Microsoft Word and PowerPoint: a bridge the two hope will carry some Symbian users over to the new devices in time.
Today Nokia announced that it would be adding a sweetener to its Symbian devices running the newest version of the OS, codenamed Belle: the devices will come loaded up with Microsoft’s productivity apps.
This will be the first time that Microsoft will allow its software to work as native applications on any mobile platform other than its own.
But this is not the first time that Nokia and Microsoft have collaborated to integrate Microsoft services onto Nokia devices. They began working together years ago, including in 2006 making Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync work on Nokia Series 60 devices.
The apps are largely aimed at enterprise users — or “prosumers” that might use their devices for work. Applications will include popular services like Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint, as well as several enterprise-focussed services like Lync, OneNote(TM), PowerPoint Broadcast and Document Connection. The first set of these — covering Lync, OneNote(TM), PowerPoint Broadcast and Document Connection — will get rolled out in Q4 2011; the rest will come online in the first half of 2012.
The app porting is a significant sign of how the two companies are collaborating together these days, but it is also a canny move for the future.
Even though Nokia has indicated Symbian will not be its main platform for smartphones in the future, it still has a huge user base, including a significant amount of enterprise users, to serve on the devices today.
It will want to keep those existing Nokia users happy until it’s time for them to upgrade, at which point Nokia hope they will remain loyal to the brnd. Putting Microsoft apps into the device will also help get Nokia Symbian users accustomed and possibly addicted to the apps — giving them another reason to stay with Nokia even as it moves ahead with a new OS.
Nokia says the Microsoft apps will be available as either software updates over the air or via PC downloads. Devices supported will include the Nokia N8, C7, C6-01, E7, E6, X7, 700, 701, 600 and Oro.