• July 1, 2011
  • By Leonard Klie Editor, Speech Technology and CRM magazines
  • FYI

Nokia Turns to Windows Phone Platform

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Finnish mobile device maker Nokia and Microsoft have finalized a partnership to develop a global mobile ecosystem centering on
Nokia’s use of the Windows Phone 7 mobile operating platform. The move signals Nokia’s abandonment of the Symbian platform, which has seen a market share decline for years, though Nokia is expected to continue making Symbian phones for some time.

Included in the partnership is the development of the first Nokia products incorporating the Windows Phone 7. Nokia has already started porting key applications and services to the Windows Phone platform, and joint outreach has begun to third-party application developers.

Under the deal, which was first suggested in February, Nokia also will deliver mapping, navigation, and location-based services to the Windows Phone ecosystem; build innovation on top of the Windows Phone platform in areas such as imaging; contribute expertise on hardware design and language support; help drive development of the Windows Phone platform; and bring the Windows Phone to a larger range of price points, market segments, and geographies.

Microsoft’s Bing will become the default search engine across Nokia devices and services, and the Microsoft adCenter would provide search-advertising services. Nokia’s content and application store would be integrated with the Microsoft Marketplace, and Microsoft’s development tools would be used to create applications to run on Nokia Windows phones, letting developers publish and distribute applications through one portal to hundreds of millions of consumers who use Windows Phone, Symbian, and Series 40 devices.

At a joint news conference in London announcing the deal in February, Nokia president and CEO Stephen Elop said the partnership would “deliver an ecosystem with unrivaled global reach and scale.” He called the mobile operating system landscape “a three-horse race” involving Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Android, and Microsoft Windows.

The hope is that shipping Nokia phones with Windows Phone 7, which Microsoft launched last year after it scrapped Windows Mobile, will also help revive Nokia’s sales, which have slipped in the past year or so. The company’s market share shrank from 39 percent a year ago to 24 percent in the first quarter of 2011, technology analyst firm Canalys says.

Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, said in the joint statement, “Together, Nokia and Microsoft will innovate with greater speed and provide enhanced opportunities for consumers and our partners to share in the success of our ecosystem.”

Still, some analysts are not convinced that adopting the Microsoft platform can save Nokia. ABI Research, for one, believes Nokia is in store for a rough couple of months. “While it remains positive about its strategic shift to Windows Phone, ABI believes [Nokia’s] losses will accelerate through 2011,” the company stated in a recent report.

Pyramid Research, though, predicts that by 2015, the Windows Phone platform will have overtaken Android and other major competitors and established itself as the leader in smartphone OSes. “Pyramid believes this will happen much earlier, as early as 2013,” says Sheila Bokun, a senior analyst at Pyramid.

News Editor Leonard Klie can be reached at lklie@infotoday.com.

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