Maybe Nokia will do a Windows Phone 7 deal, after all

Summary:Last week, I was bearish on claims, prayers and predictions that Nokia would end up offering some kind of Windows Phone device as part of the company's line-up. But now, I'm thinking it's not just possible, but probable.

Last week, I was bearish on claims, prayers and predictions that Nokia would end up offering some kind of Windows Phone device as part of the company's line-up. But now, I'm thinking it's not just possible, but probable.

I was a skeptic for a number of reasons, and not because I am a Windows Phone hater. (In fact, I would be a Windows Phone 7 owner if Verizon would make one available. So far, all we still know is Verizon plans to add at least one WP7 model to its line-up some time this year... maybe after customers stop burning up the lines to buy iPhones.)

Windows Phone 7 is still a version 1 product. Microsoft and the carriers who do offer WP7 devices still have yet to roll out the first update to the platform. WP7s don't offer much for business users so far. Microsoft has delivered 2 million copies of the OS to carriers since October 2010, which means fewer than 2 million devices have been sold to date. To restate the obvious, Microsoft's smartphone platform has a long way to go to catch up to Android and iOS.

Microsoft's decision to "lock down" WP7 handset makers, requiring them to choose among three different chassis specs, also made me leery that Nokia -- the No. 1 smartphone provider, with its own OS and developer tools/ecosystem -- would agree to abide by Microsoft's new rules. So even though Microsoft and Nokia had forged a partnership, bringing Silverlight, Office Mobile and Office Communicator to some Symbian phones, I was definitely thinking that Nokia would go with Android over WP7.

What changed my mind? It wasn't Nokia CEO Stephen Elop's "Burning Platform" memo -- which sounded to me like the kind of memo more than a few Softies have penned in an attempt to motivate the troops and/or signal a sea-change. The rumors were already swirling before the Burning Platform memo leaked that Nokia was ready to add a non-Symbian/non-MeeGo phone platform to its stable of offerings.

Instead, what's got me thinking I was wrong is a tweet from Google's Vice President of Engineering Vic Gundrota. Gundrota's tweet:

February 11 is the date when Elop is expected to unveil publicly Nokia's new platform directions. I'm thinking the "turkeys" here don't include the golden goose Google, but more likely refer to Microsoft and Nokia. If your company had just cemented a deal with the established (even though slipping) smartphone leader, would you be talking turkey?

If Nokia still does end up choosing Android, I'd think Gundrota might have some explaining (and apologizing) to do. If Nokia, instead, has decided to go with WP7, I'd be really interested to hear more on any concessions the Softies made to get the deal done. And yes, if it's WP7 that Nokia chooses over Android, I will be eating crow turkey....

Update: A couple of folks have noted that there's another possible interpretation of the Gundrota quote. Anssi Vanjoki, Nokia's former Executive Vice President for Markets, said the exact same thing in 2005 about BenQ buying Siemens' mobile handset business handset business. Hmmm. Will Google have the last laugh?

Topics: Mobility, Hardware, Microsoft, Nokia, Operating Systems, Smartphones, Software, Telcos, Windows

About

Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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