Nokia to make Windows Phone 7 phones, Symbian and MeeGo not dead

Nokia will start making Windows Phone 7 smart phones as part of a 'strategic alliance' with Microsoft, but won't be killing off its own Symbian or MeeGo operating systems just yet.

Nokia is to start making Windows Phone 7 handsets in an attempt to seize back the initiative from iPhone and Android . The company revealed its new "strategic partnership" with Microsoft early this morning, but confirmed it won't be killing off the Symbian or MeeGo operating systems as a result.

No actual device was announced this morning. Instead, Nokia confirmed that it will adopt Windows Phone as its "principal smart-phone strategy", blending its hardware expertise -- cameras were specifically highlighted in the announcement -- with Microsoft's software and services.

The two companies are going to work together on the future roadmap of Windows Phone too, while Nokia will make use of Microsoft's Bing search across all its devices. Nokia's Ovi Store will be "integrated" with Microsoft's WinPho 7 Marketplace for apps and content.

"Nokia and Microsoft will combine our strengths to deliver an ecosystem with unrivalled global reach and scale," said Nokia CEO Stephen Elop. "It's now a three-horse race." We imagine BlackBerry-makers Research In Motion may have something to say about that comment.

So what about Symbian and MeeGo? Nokia says Symbian will become "a franchise platform, leveraging previous investments to harvest additional value". Which is marvellous corporatespeak, but what does it mean? Selling 150 million more Symbian smart phones in the developing world, apparently, with Symbian users here in the west encouraged to upgrade to the new Windows Phone handsets.

Meanwhile, MeeGo's future is less clear. It's becoming an "open-source, mobile operating system project", which sounds like a sideline to us. "MeeGo will place increased emphasis on longer-term market exploration of next-generation devices, platforms and user experiences," explains Nokia's announcement, although the company does still plan to launch a MeeGo 'product' this year.

Translation: MeeGo isn't for smart phones any more, it's about tablets and other connected devices.

We'll find out more about Nokia's plans -- including perhaps when its first Windows Phone 7 devices will make their debut -- later on this morning when Elop speaks at a press conference in London. Nokia may even have something to show at Mobile World Congress next week, although if the deal with Microsoft has only just been signed, it may be optimistic to expect a NokPho7 (?) phone to break cover that quickly.

Still, Nokia and Windows Phone 7. It's happening, but what do you think -- are Nokia and Microsoft the dark horse in the smart phone race, or a pair of turkeys with no chance of becoming an eagle? Let us know in the comments. Meanwhile, here's Elop and Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer talking up the deal.


 

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