Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 operating system could prove to have positive synergy with Nokia, should the latter adopt it. Rumors suggest Microsoft and Nokia are in talks.
Here's one from the Totally Unexpected Department: Microsoft and Nokia are
apparently in discussions over porting Windows Phone 7 onto Nokia phones,
according to an online report.
Russian blogger Eldar Murtazin, in an editorial published on Russian
Website Mobile Review
, suggested that Nokia and Microsoft initiated the
talks a month ago. "They are talking about the creation of a new line of
Windows Phone devices," according to
, paraphrasing Murtazin's piece, "which could be sold under
Nokia brand, via Nokia distribution channels and have some typical Nokia
For its part, Nokia
reportedly declined to comment
on "rumors and speculation."
In the past, Nokia has denied any intention of adding to its smartphone
ecosystem. "This stance was strongly reinforced by our management during Nokia
World, and we have no plans to use other operating systems," company
spokesperson Leo McKay told Bloomberg in September
, the last time rumors
emerged that Nokia would integrate Windows Phone 7 into its offerings.
If Nokia ever adopted Windows Phone 7, Microsoft would likely make the
company hew to the same platform hardware requirements as other manufacturers,
including the use of a 1GHz processor. The company's current operating systems
include Series 40, Symbian and MeeGo; its newest flagship device, the N8, runs
the Symbian 3 operating system
But according one analyst, adopting Windows Phone 7 would hold advantages
for Nokia. "The hardware competition is fierce, and companies like Samsung and
LG have made enormous gains on the device side by being agnostic and
opportunistic," Al Hilwa, an analyst with IDC, wrote in a Dec. 20 e-mail to eWEEK.
Nokia's quest to "leverage smartphone device economics," Hilwa suggested,
will eventually mean "coming to terms with Android and Windows Phone 7." Nokia
CEO Stephen Elop's history as an ex-Microsoft executive could give the latter
an advantage if Nokia wants to choose an "agnostic and opportunistic" operating
"I would say that [Windows Phone 7] has much greater alignment with Nokia's
intellectual property DNA than [does] Android,"
Hilwa added. "I believe an alignment between these two vendors is a win-win in
Microsoft already has a software partnership with Nokia extending back to
August 2009, when the two companies announced that mobile versions of Microsoft
Office would come preloaded on Nokia smartphones. At that time, Nokia also
began work on optimizing Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync for its devices,
allowing for more streamlined access to e-mail and personal information.
Even as Microsoft and Nokia collaborated on that front, a changeover in the
companies' respective executive suites threatened to spin the relationship in
unexpected ways: In September, Microsoft Business Division president Stephen
Elop stepped down to take the CEO reins at Nokia.
"I am writing to let you know that Stephen Elop has been offered and has
accepted the job as CEO of Nokia and will be leaving Microsoft," Microsoft
CEO Steve Ballmer wrote in a Sept. 9 e-mail to company employees
leaves in place a strong business and technical leadership team, including
Chris Capossela, Kurt DelBene, Amy Hood and Kirill Tatarinov, all of whom will
report to me in the interim."
Thus emerged a new question: Would Elop, in his new role, shepherd a deeper
partnership between his new company and Microsoft, or leverage his knowledge of
Redmond's inner workings to kick off an era of fiercer competition? Elop had
been hired to drive a larger transformation within Nokia, which, despite its
strong international reputation, had never managed to gain a substantial
foothold in the U.S. smartphone market. Just as he stepped into the position, a
September research note from IDC suggested that Nokia's share would continue to
dip through 2014, even as the company maintained its position as the world's
No. 1 smartphone platform.
"The time is right to accelerate the company's renewal; to bring in new
executive leadership with different skills and strengths in order to drive the
company's success," Jorma Ollila, chairperson of the Nokia board of directors,
wrote in a Sept. 10 statement. "The Nokia Board believes that Stephen has the
right industry experience and leadership skills to realize the full potential
Whether Elop decides to embrace his former company's operating system,
though, remains to be seen. According to another analyst, any Windows Phone 7
adoption by Nokia would need a sound strategy underlying it.
"If this is the path, it could be beneficial to both companies," Rob
Enderle, principal analyst of the Enderle Group, wrote in a Dec. 20 e-mail to eWEEK.
"If it is yet another hedge in a
massive bet that includes platforms from Nokia, Intel, and Microsoft, it will
spread Nokia's resources too thin for them to execute well on any of the
initiatives." Nokia would have to cede a significant degree of
control to Microsoft, a bridge that might prove too far for a company that
historically has liked to keep a tight rein on its ecosystem. "Now if they
could license an embedded version of Windows Phone 7 and create their own
experience on top of that, it would be interesting, and their new CEO could likely
cut that deal given his Microsoft pedigree," Enderle wrote. "But, in the end,
Nokia needs to pick a path and properly resource it. . . ."