Microsoft and Nokia could collaborate to bring Windows Phone 7 to Nokia's smartphones, according to rumors sparked by Nokia CEO Stephen Elop's comments.
Are Nokia and
Microsoft getting ready to announce a Windows Phone 7 alliance? That's
certainly been the buzz-even before a German bank analyst, in a Jan. 31
letter, encouraged the companies to port Microsoft's mobile software onto Nokia
Bank analyst Adnaan Ahmad's letter, addressed rather familiarly to "Stephen
(Nokia CEO) and Steve (Microsoft CEO)," detailed how such an arrangement would
benefit both companies: "You get access to their WP7 intellectual property
(IPR) scot-free and access to the U.S. market where your share has dived to the
low single-digit level, and in doing [so] cut your bloated handset business
followed Nokia CEO Stephen Elop's Jan.
27 earnings-call statement that Nokia "must build, catalyze or join a
Nokia is hosting
an event Feb. 11 apparently to reveal its strategy. "We [are] very clearly
ensuring that it will give us the opportunity to reopen markets such as the
U.S. and some others," Elop added, "where we have not recently been present."
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.
Microsoft and Nokia collaborated on that front-and continued to compete via
their respective smartphone platforms-a changeover in the companies' executive
suites threatened to spin the relationship in unexpected ways. In September
2010, Microsoft Business Division president Stephen Elop stepped down to take
That sparked a
new question: Would Elop, in his new role, attempt to deepen the partnership
between the two companies, or would he use his knowledge of Redmond's inner
workings to heighten competition? Elop had been hired as a change agent within
Nokia, even as research firm IDC predicted that the company's share of the
mobile market would continue to dip through 2014.
one analyst, a Nokia and Microsoft alliance over Windows Phone 7 offers some
competition is fierce, and companies like Samsung and LG [Electronics] 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," he added, will eventually mean
"coming to terms with Android and Windows Phone 7."
choose an "agnostic and opportunistic" operating system, Elop's history with
Microsoft could potentially give Nokia an advantage. "I would say that [Windows
Phone 7] has a much greater alignment with Nokia's intellectual property DNA
than [does] Android," Hilwa wrote. "I believe an alignment between these two
vendors is a win-win in the industry."
see the potential benefits as minimal.
reasons Nokia has always suffered, Microsoft has suffered too," Pierre Ferragu,
senior analyst at Bernstein Research, told
the International Business Times Feb. 4. "Desktop operating systems don't
translate to the phone."
eventual decision, it will likely have a significant effect on the company's
fortunes moving forward. Both Nokia and Microsoft find themselves battling in
the smartphone market against the growing family of Google Android devices and
Apple's iPhone, which have proven themselves to be fierce competitors.
Microsoft's Windows Phone 7, introduced in the U.S. in November, is intended to
help reverse the company's eroding share of that market.
Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.