Nokia is making Windows Phone 7 its primary smart-phone platform, but why did the company opt for Microsoft over Google's Android? CEO Stephen Elop has just outlined some of the reasons at a press event in London, as he fielded questions alongside Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.
Elop admitted Nokia had conversations with Google over a possible deal, with "attractive elements" offset by the likelihood of Google gaining much more from any partnership than Nokia. "Our fundamental belief is we would have difficulty differentiating," said Elop -- meaning they would have become just another Android phone maker. "Microsoft was the best opportunity to build, and lead, and fight."
When can we expect to see the first Nokia Windows Phone 7 device? Elop and Ballmer both batted the question back, with Elop saying, "We aren't making a specific announcement of when that will be," while Ballmer contented himself with, "When there's news there will be news." He added that Microsoft and Nokia's engineers have already been working closely together, with talks having started back in November between the two companies.
Ballmer said the deal is not exclusive: Microsoft will continue working with other handset makers on Windows Phone 7 smart phones. He said, however, "There's things we're doing with Nokia that are unique" -- which makes us wonder how pleased LG, Samsung and HTC will be at the thought of one of their biggest rivals working so closely with Microsoft on the development of its software.
It seems Symbian is on the way out for Nokia, but only over a period of years. Elop repeated the claim from earlier today that Nokia expects to sell 150 million Symbian smart phones over the coming years (there are 200 million around today), but emphasised that he sees this as a transition from Symbian to Windows Phone 7.
And MeeGo? "We will be shipping the first MeeGo device this year," said Elop, describing it as "an opportunity to learn". The question on MeeGo led into another about Nokia's tablet plans, although here too, Elop was keen not to give anything away.
"We have multiple options here but we do not have a specific tablet strategy that we're announcing," he said. Clearly, MeeGo is one option for future Nokia tablets, but so might Microsoft's Windows 7 OS, or even Android. The likelihood of Nokia releasing a tablet this year appears to be receding, in any case.