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Nokia Goes All The Way: Windows Is ‘Primary Platform’

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It looks like Nokia’s “burning platform” memo wasn’t just big talk from chief executive Stephen Elop.

In an announcement released just a short while ago, the Finnish handset maker said that it would essentially be abandoning MeeGo — its troubled next-generation operating system — and partnering with Microsoft to make Windows Phone 7 its smartphone software of choice.

For lower end phones, the company will stick with Symbian for the time being, but Elop — who joined from Microsoft (s msft) just a few months ago — made his longer-term intentions dramatically clear.

“Nokia is at a critical juncture where significant change is necessary and inevitable in our journey forward,” he says. “Today, we are accelerating that change through a new path, aimed at regaining our smartphone leadership, reinforcing our mobile device platform and realizing our investments in the future.”

It is not just a simple deal between the two companies, however. The Nokia-Microsoft link goes much deeper than just porting Windows Phone over onto Nokia’s (s nok) devices, as an open letter from Elop and Steve Ballmer makes clear.

There will also be:

  • Close collaboration on future development
  • Integration of Bing into Nokia devices, and deployment of Microsoft’s AdCenter for on-phone advertising
  • Nokia’s Ovi Maps (previously NavTeq) will become the core service behind Microsoft’s mapping products
  • The integration of the two company’s application and content stores

Elop has also changed the company’s top level structure, effectively separating it into a legacy business unit focused on Symbian and a series of other groups focused on the future. It’s certainly a bold and decisive move.

Nokia will be holding a briefing in a few hours to answer questions.

29 Responses to “Nokia Goes All The Way: Windows Is ‘Primary Platform’”

  1. When this partnership gets up to full speed I think there is potential, but I think it will be too little too late to stem the inertia of iOS and Android. The problem Nokia and MS have had is being nimble in the marketplace. The cycle time for handsets in the marketplace continues to accelerate. Until Nokia and MS demonstrate an ability to execute, I’m skeptical they’ll be able to claw back a leadership position in the market.

  2. A competent OS is all that matters. People care about what they can do, and this partnership will provide fingers for Microsoft, and therefore developer attention. I would suggest that like Motorola, these two get a services group together to incubate some innovative services.

    What do people want to do?

  3. I do not see as much benefit the consumer will get by this switchover as compared to a switchover to Android. Nokia being the best in phone hardware manufacturing it deserved the best software which is Android and not Windows.

    • Hogan Bro.

      Very silly assumption that shows lack of thought. Nokia joining the Android OS makes them no different than their competitors. It’s like selling cars which all have exactly the same features of the next. No reason to buy one over the other. In this day CPU, RAM and storage are no longer the differentiating factors. Windows offers a different experience from the I-wana-be-an-iPhone Android. It’s a smart play for Google to do that, not innovative, but smart. It’s what Microsoft did with Windows and Google has already said they are trying to be Microsoft.

      -Windows 7 Phone

  4. Ted Todorov

    One thing fascinates me here — the tablet market and what Nokia imagines the future to be.

    Let’s look at this deal in the best light for Nokia possible — they are getting a phone OS that provides a good user experience, better than anything they could have produced in house in a few months time (they’ve had years of utter failure in that regard now, what could possibly change internally?)

    The problem though, is that leading edge of the phone OS game is quickly shifting to tablets. And there, WIndows 7 Phone gets Nokia nothing, because Ballmer and co. have adamantly refused to use it as a tablet OS, preferring the completely unsuitable desktop Windows.

    This does two things to Nokia — it leaves them without a tablet OS, which is bad. But it also leaves them without a full fledged mobile ecosystem which is worse. How do you keep developers interested if they have a choice between an ecosystem where they can leverage there smartphone work to tablets as well, like iOS, Android, even HP’s WebOS and possibly even RIM with QNX is they move it to their phones fast enough? I don’t think you can keep the developers without such a phone/tablet ecosystem.

    Nokia missing out on buying Palm or even QNX will go down as their last great blunder.

  5. I was a Nokia diehard before the i-Phone altered the landscape forever. It easy to dismiss this as another blunder in a series of blunders but I think the longterm outcome of this marriage would be interesting to follow and watch. Two former giants going against the two that are currently dominating.

  6. Like the man who was working on an oil platform, Nokia decided to jump into the deep waters! Soon it will sink without any trace. As Elop realized, today the ecosystem matters. Now tell me, what will make nokia developers move to MS ecosystem? I believe they will move to iphone/android ecosystem which is thriving.

  7. How ironic….they’re “pissing in their pants to get warm.”
    Good move for Elop, even if he doesn’t manage to turn around Nokia, I’m sure Steve Ballmer would be happy to take him back.

  8. It’s a turning point in the history of both companies. And I for one do hope that it works. The world could use some competition in this area. Nokia and Microsoft are not cold turkeys – they both have rich histories, huge markets and the drive/persistence required to take technology to the masses. Why is that important ? Because bringing technology to the masses will make a much bigger difference to the world than making sexy technology for the classes. Having said, this, I do love my iToys.

    • Hogan Bro.

      I agree, it is strange how individuals can right off two giants, one with a great OS and the other with great hardware, just because the ‘bloggers’ have decided the market is only large enough for two players. How many customers does Nokia have worldwide in the cell market? If they can even transition a portion of those.

      This is why I read GIGAOM they think about what could happen as opposed to what will happen. No one knows what will happen. Markets are diverse, because people are diverse.

  9. Nokia is adding more confusion, as a developer I dont understand what Nokia stands for, series40, S60, qt, meego, Windows ……Developing for Nokia handsets will be more painful

    • Bobbie Johnson

      Rakesh, I think there is due to be more clarification on this later. But essentially it seems like we’re talking Series 40 for low end devices, Windows Phone for higher end. MeeGo, QT and S60 haven’t officially been executed, but the suggestion is that they’ll be gone sooner rather than later.

  10. A good move by both the companies. I am with Nokia on this.

    Nokia has always been a hardware company as OM mentions many times in his articles. I have used communicator, the first so called Smartphone from Nokia and experience was less than satisfactory when I look back now. Symbian was never an OS for the smartphones and Nokia has realized it very late but better late than never.

    Both the companies have lot to prove yet and I believe it will be good for the consumers.

    All the best.