Nokia-Microsoft deal 'good' for developers and operators

Nokia-Microsoft deal 'good' for developers and operators

Summary: Nokia and Microsoft's smartphone tie-in will benefit developers, publishers and mobile operators, the companies said as they explained the rationale behind the deal


Nokia's adoption of Windows Phone 7 as its primary smartphone platform will work in the interests of application developers, mobile operators and content publishers, company chief Stephen Elop said at an investor conference on Friday.

Nokia Microsoft deal

The Nokia-Microsoft partnership is "good for developers and publishers", Nokia's chief Stephen Elop said, pictured with Microsoft's Steve Ballmer. Photo credit: David Meyer

A couple of hours after Nokia announced the tie-in at Nokia's Capital Markets Day in London, Elop said Windows Phone 7 developers would particularly benefit from the deal, which will see Nokia abandon its historical focus on Symbian and drop the idea of basing high-end phones on MeeGo. Analysts said the announcement confirms Symbian is no longer worth developers' attention at all.

"The entire smartphone market is growing rapidly, and we should be setting the pace," Elop said. "The game has changed from a battle of devices to a war of ecosystems.

"This is good for developers and publishers. They can take the skills they already have for Windows and Windows-related platforms and apply them to this [new ecosystem]. It gives them access to Nokia's global scale," he said.

The entire smartphone market is growing rapidly, and we should be setting the pace. The game has changed from a battle of devices to a war of ecosystems.

– Stephen Elop, Nokia

Suggesting that the Nokia-Microsoft deal means the smartphone market is now a "three-horse race" — the 'horses' being Windows Phone 7, Google's Android and Apple's iOS — Elop said operators had reacted positively when Nokia told them of the new arrangement, as they have needed a "credible alternative" to Google and Apple's operating systems.

"One of the things I heard from a European operator was, 'thank you; we are all smiles'," said Elop, who moved to Nokia from Microsoft in September. He explained that Nokia's Symbian expertise will be used to "help Microsoft go downscale" and address a wider market around the world.

Symbian is 'dead'

Ian Fogg, a Forrester analyst, said that Nokia is right to keep Symbian going for a while, as it "can't suddenly stop supporting" the hundreds of millions of Symbian handsets that are in use. However, he said, the Microsoft tie-in means Symbian is "essentially dead as a smartphone platform".

"That leaves open the possibility that [Symbian] will continue as a super-feature-phone platform," Fogg told ZDNet UK, adding that this will fit in with the fact that developers have already started abandoning the platform. "Symbian has already lost developer mindshare. This will confirm what most developers already believed."

Fogg pointed out that Nokia will have to release a Windows Phone soon, as the news on Friday "undermines all the current smartphones Nokia has on sale".

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"Nokia has to move very quickly on Windows Phone 7 devices, or they risk slumping sales," Fogg said. "Today they didn't even give an approximate date as to when they expect the first Nokia Windows Phone 7 phones to ship."

Ovum analyst Tony Cripps agreed about Nokia's need for speed, saying that "if there wasn't more than one [Nokia Windows Phone 7 handset] by mid-year, you might start wondering whether the partnership was working out".

Win for Microsoft

Fogg characterised the deal as a "big win for Microsoft". He noted that the US software maker has "signed up the largest handset maker by volume by far" and has gained a partner that will focus on Windows Phone 7. Microsoft's existing Windows Phone 7 manufacturers, such as LG, HTC and Samsung, are all significantly invested in Android as well, he pointed out.

For his part, Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer said at the event that his company has...

Topics: Mobility, Smartphones

David Meyer

About David Meyer

David Meyer is a freelance technology journalist. He fell into journalism when he realised his musical career wouldn't pay the bills. David's main focus is on communications, as well as internet technologies, regulation and mobile devices.

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  • Nope - Elops is wrong. It's bad for Nokia, worse for Nokia developers. Nokia will lose out to Samsung in the emerging markets, and they still won't make much of an impact in the US which is already a mature smartphone market. Neither Microsoft nor Nokia are cool any more, and Apple and Google have shown it's not just technology and features, it's also a fashion business and this won't get them back in fashion.
  • Meegone! you are right. Nokia was for serious users who like details and know what a mobile OS should be like. It was never for fashion users. As a mobile OS, it is still better than iOS and Andriod, but its UI needed some improvement which Nokia was slow to bring because of unclear strategy and focus. That was the only problem. They were in the right direction with Symbian 3 and needed to shorten their development time to bring quick updates for UI and browser. They already lost (with this partnership) the customer mindshare in the rest of the world and they will find it difficult to capture the NA customer mindshare because of Android and iOS stronghold in NA. Nokia has also drilled serveral holes (abandoning Symbian 3, MeeGo and Qt) in thier own ship that is now on journey for 1/2 years towards Nokia/WinPhone! If somehow that ship reached to that point we will come here again and praise Elop, but for now it is thumps down for Nokia/Elop strategy. Lets see how their stocks go. May be MS will help their stocks to keep them up!
  • I think Nokia has the license to customize WP7 now, which is a good thing. Actually, they claim they'll be working in partnership with MS to that purpose. So, I'm already assuming that the WP7 OS we'll find on Nokia phones will be to some degree different (albait compatible, I really hope) from the one on other hardware producers.

    I also think it will be quite likely we'll see other features I can't really understand why are currently missing in WP7, such as thetering and Sync with Outlook.
    In other words, I think this degree of exclusivity may be enough to generate that uniqueness that is indeed needed to compete against the iPhone.
    Check this to see what other developers have to say: