Are two 'Steves' better than Steve Jobs?
The announcement that Nokia and Microsoft are joining forces over smartphones by forming a strategic partnership saw two Steves take to the stage in London today - hoping their combined might is enough to challenge the other Steve, Apple's Steve Jobs, and the marching might of Google's Android platform.
"This is now a three-horse race," said Stephen Elop, CEO of Nokia, describing Windows Phone 7 running on Nokia hardware as a "credible alternative" to the iPhone and countless Androids grabbing so much of the smartphone market.
Elop was joined on stage by his former colleague at Microsoft, CEO Steve Ballmer, who revealed the two companies had started discussing a tie-up back in November. "This partnership with Nokia will dramatically accelerate the development of a vibrant, strong Windows Phone 7 ecosystem," said Ballmer.
Nokia has struggled to compete against a wave of new mobile competitors in recent years - a fact Elop apparently alluded to earlier this week in a leaked company memo to employees, which described Nokia as standing on a "burning platform". The memo said Nokia's survival depended on taking a leap into the unknown - as confirmed today by a tie-up with Microsoft and its Windows Phone 7 platform.
"Nokia will adopt Windows Phone as our primary smartphone strategy," said Elop. "Together we can deliver iconic hardware, stellar software and unique services for smartphones." Elop added that Nokia had discussed using Google's Android platform but had decided the risk of commoditisation was too great.
"We absolutely spent time with our colleagues at Google. We explored the opportunity with the Google ecosystem and indeed it's moving very quickly, it's gaining share. There are some attractive elements to it," said Elop. "However, our fundamental belief is that we would have had difficulty differentiating within that ecosystem."
"We have very clear plans that allow us to differentiate within the Windows Phone ecosystem - very much as a function of our unique relationship with Microsoft," he added.
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