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Nokia Partners With Microsoft, Adopts Windows Phone As Primary Platform

Nokia Partners With Microsoft, Adopts Windows Phone As Primary Platform

February 11, 2011 | By Eric Caoili

February 11, 2011 | By Eric Caoili

Facing increasing competition from Android and iOS, Nokia has announced a partnership with Microsoft that will see the Finnish company replacing Symbian with Windows Phone 7 as its primary smartphone platform.

Nokia intends to build "a global mobile ecosystem based on highly complementary assets" with Microsoft, and to "drive and define" Window Phone's future by contributing its experience in hardware design and language support to the platform's development. It believes it can bring Windows Phone to more price points and territories.

Microsoft and Nokia will collaborate on "development, joint marketing initiatives, and a shared development roadmap." They will also combine services assets, such as adding Nokia Maps to Microsoft's mapping services (e.g. Bing search engine), and integrating Nokia's "Ovi" application and content store into Microsoft Marketplace.

With this new partnership, Microsoft will also provide tools to help developers create applications that will run on Nokia Windows Phones. It will continue investing in the platform's development and cloud services, too. Furthermore, Nokia devices will now use Bing for search services, and Microsoft adCenter for searach advertising services.

Though Nokia hasn't mentioned its revised strategy for mobile games with Microsoft, it's likely keen to adopt Windows Phone 7's Xbox Live service. It's own attempts to establish a foothold in that market, such as its Ovi application store, and before that its widely panned N-Gage platform, have failed to capture a substantial audience compared to its rivals.

As it transitions to Windows Phone, Nokia will transform Symbian into "a franchise platform" and take advantage of "previous investments to harvest additional value". The Helsinki-based firm intends to further expand the current audience of 200 million Symbian owners by selling around 150 million more Symbian devices in the coming years.

Its Linux-based MeeGo operating system, which was created in conjunction with Intel, AMD, and Novell, will become an open-source project that places "increased emphasis on longer-term market exploration of next-generation devices, platforms and user experiences". Nokia plans to ship a MeeGo-related product some time this year.

Along with this shift in strategy, Nokia has made significant changes to its leadership team and operational structure to "expedite decision-making and improve time-to-market of products and innovations". The changes include the resignation of Alberto Torres, who was executive vice president of Nokia's MeeGo Computers unit.

As of April 1, the company's new structure will feature two different business units, Smart Devices (high-end smartphones) and Mobile Phones (mass-market devices), each with "profit-and-loss responsibility and end-to-end accountability for the full consumer experience, including product development, product management and product marketing."

The Smart Devices unit, which is responsible for creating Nokia's Windows Phone portfolio, will be led by Jo Harlow and will have three subdivisions: Symbian Smartphones, MeeGo Computers, and Strategic Business Operations. Mary McDowell will head Mobile Phones, focusing on the company's strategy to bring web-enabled phones to developing markets.

"Nokia is at a critical juncture, where significant change is necessary and inevitable in our journey forward,” says Nokia president and CEO Stephen Elop. "Today, we are accelerating that change through a new path, aimed at regaining our smartphone leadership, reinforcing our mobile device platform and realizing our investments in the future."

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