It’s a day many thought would never happen, but here it is. Nokia has just announced that it is going into partnership with Microsoft and that Windows Phone will be its primary mobile operating system. Whoa!
Let’s just take a minute to disgest what this will mean. Only a couple of days ago Nokia CEO, and former Microsoft executive, Stephen Elop spoke about Nokia being on a burning platform and needed to change its ways or perish. Well this announcement by Nokia and Microsoft is certainly a change and will send shockwaves through the mobile world. For the past couple of years Nokia has stood still in the smartphone market while iOS and Android-powered phones outshone them. This move to partner with Microsoft could be seen as Nokia’s final throw of the dice in the smartphone game.
Elop, in a video annoucnement, said consumers could expect “stellar hardware, innovative software and great services” from the new partnership. Microsoft chief, Steve Ballmer, added that his company would be bringing “the brands that consumers want” like Bing, Office and of course Xbox Live. The new alliance will see Nokia build on the Windows Phone platform in areas such as imaging where it is a market leader. As well as that, Nokia's Ovi Maps will be integrated into Bing and the Ovi Store will merge with Windows Marketplace.
"There are other mobile ecosystems. We will disrupt them. There will be challenges. We will overcome them. Success requires speed. We will be swift. Together, we see the opportunity, and we have the will, the resources and the drive to succeed," a joint statement from Ballmer and Elop told the Nokia Conversations website.
In the press release Nokia said that it would be helping to bring the Windows Phone platform to a larger range of price points meaning we could be seeing budget WP7 phones sooner rather than later. Microsoft’s adCenter will now also provide search advertising services on Nokia's line of devices and services.
But what I hear you ask of the beleaguered Symbian and the unknown quantity of MeeGo? Well neither is going away completely. MeeGo is to become an open source operating system. “MeeGo will place increased emphasis on longer-term market exploration of next-generation devices, platforms and user experiences. Nokia still plans to ship a MeeGo-related product later this year." Symbian on the other hand will become a franchise platform “leveraging previous investments to harvest additional value. This strategy recognizes the opportunity to retain and transition the installed base of 200 million Symbian owners. Nokia expects to sell approximately 150 million more Symbian devices in the years to come."
Obviously all this change has resulted in changes in management with the most high profile casualty coming when Alberto Torres, former head of MeeGo, quit yesterday. Not surprising really. Jo Harlow now becomes the main woman at the center of the Nokia's brave new world with Smart Devices responsibility for Symbian smartphones, MeeGo Computers and Strategic Business Operations.
Nokia in a final press release said it was unable to provide a revenue prediction for 2011 due to the uncertainty regarding its new alliance. Not surprising really considering the huge gamble (or not depending on your point of view) the company is taking. If you've managed to catch your breath let us know what you think of this very interesting news.
Update: Elop and Ballmer have just walked off stage at the Nokia Strategic Briefing this morning and they looked very pally with each other and professed cooperation and bringing products to market faster than before. Nothing else major was announced though Elop did go into why Nokia chose WP instead of Android or Symbian/MeeGo.
He said the internal option of going with Symbian and MeeGo was "concerning" as it was moving too slowly and the Android route would mean Nokia would find it hard to differentiate themselves from the sea of Android devices. He also said there would be significant reductions in R&D spending (which is no bad thing considering they spent $4 billion last year alone), also adding there would be significant reductions in employment in Finland and around the world. Not such good news. We'll bring you more as we get it from the Briefing in London.