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MWC: Nokia admits it rejected Android

At the Mobile World Conference, Nokia CEO, Stephen Elop said that the company’s decision to choose Microsoft Windows Phone 7 as its smartphone operating system over Android was to avoid a ‚duopoly‚ in the mobile industry. He went on to say that the fact that he is an ex-Microsoft employee had nothing to do with the decision made by Nokia.

Nokia’s decision to opt for the Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 (WP7) platform as its primary smartphone OS, rather than Android, was prompted by a desire to avoid a ‚duopoly‚ in the mobile industry between Google/Nokia and Apple, CEO Stephen Elop said in Barcelona at the GSMA Mobile World Congress.

Elop said that the Finnish handset giant had been ‚suited‚ by both Google (Android) and Microsoft in the weeks leading up to last Friday’s announcement. ‚A decision to swing to Android would have tilted the mobile ecosystem in the direction of a duopoly, but we wanted to create a challenger,‚ he said.

Elop noted that the new partnership will initially operate as a straightforward OEM deal, which will see Nokia pay Microsoft a fee to use its software. But he also talked up the significant ‚value transfer‚ in financial terms that would come Nokia’s way as a result of reduced operating expenses and new revenue streams such as access to Microsoft’s search and advertising capabilities. This financial contribution would be ‚in the billions not the millions,‚ Elop said.

Nokia was unable to give a firm timeframe on when its first WP7 phone would appear but it is hopeful for a launch before year end. Elop was joined on stage by senior VP Jo Harlow, who said that investment in Symbian would continue ‚ at least in the short term ‚ prior to a ‚carefully managed transition‚ to WP7. However, there was little mention on MeeGo – Nokia’s high-end OS with Intel ‚ aside from the fact that the first MeeGo phone is also due later this year and that MeeGo will form part of Nokia’s ‚next-generation platform strategy.‚

Elop was forced to bat away accusations that ‚ as an ex-Microsoft employee ‚ he had acted as a ‚trojan horse‚ at Nokia to drive the deal through since being appointed CEO last September. He also denied rumours he was a major shareholder in his former firm and pledged to sell any personal shares he still owned in Microsoft as soon as he was allowed.

Nokia’s deal to use WP7 as its main smartphone platform is set to dominate debate at the congress this week. The two firms are positioning the alliance as the third major smartphone ecosystem alongside Apple’s iOS and the Android community. The deal will also see many of their service offerings – such as Nokia’s Ovi maps and Microsoft’s Bing search engine ‚ pooled together, while Nokia’s apps store (Ovi) is to be rolled into WP7’s Marketplace.

The deal was seen as a positive for Microsoft, which is set to benefit hugely from the support for WP7 by the world’s largest handset vendor. However, the news was less well received at Nokia, where some employees on Friday even staged a protest at a plant in Finland dedicated to the Symbian platform. Investors appeared equally worried about the wisdom of the Microsoft deal from Nokia’s point of view, sending shares in the Finnish firm down almost 15 percent in trading Friday.

– Story courtesy Mobile World Congress Show Daily

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