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Nokia Android phone would have 'felt like giving in', says CEO Elop

Nokia made Windows Phone its OS of choice after giving up on "crufty" Symbian because joining the Android hordes "felt like giving in", said CEO Stephen Elop.

Nokia decided to make Windows Phone handsets after finding Android didn't offer enough opportunity to set Nokia apart from the rest of the pack, the company's CEO Stephen Elop said at the Uplinq conference in San Diego.

But Elop also admitted Nokia had "attitudinal" problems with Android. Although he called Android "a winning ecosystem" and knew that using it would allow Nokia to re-enter the American market in force, joining the robot brigade would have "felt like giving in".

Instead, Nokia chose to use Windows Phone on its upcoming smart phones. The company did a deal with Microsoft that Elop said will allow Nokia to differentiate its mobiles more clearly from other manufacturer's phones.

By focusing on Windows Phone rather than Android, or doing both, Nokia claims it will be able to bring Windows Phone out of the doldrums, where it has been languishing mostly unnoticed since it launched last year. Without naming names, Elop implied that companies such as HTC, which make both Android phone and Windows Phones, tend to relegate Windows Phone to the second string. In contrast, Elop promised that Nokia will bring its best game to Windows Phone.

Elop hinted that the camera will be one place where its Windows Phones will dominate. He said the Nokia N8 has by far the best camera in mobiledom, and, although we hated the N8's clunky Symbian software, we agree. But, according to Elop, the N8's snapper is just the tip of the iceberg.

"That's just a fraction of the optics and photography technology that we have in our labs," said Elop.

Nokia's definitely got a battle in store after abandoning both Symbian, its traditional smart phone software, and MeeGo, the fresh OS it was working on with Intel.

Elop called Symbian "crufty" and "fragile" after years of development added too many layers of complexity to the OS.

MeeGo was a good start, but would take too long to percolate down from expensive smart phones such as the Nokia N900 to cheaper phones. With 1.3 billion Nokia users worldwide, including huge followings in the developing world, Nokia can't afford to stick to the fancy phones like Apple does with the iPhone.

Elop sounded every inch the ex-Microsofty as he extolled the virtues of Windows Phone instead of doing much tooting of Nokia's own horn. It's all about the "battle of the ecosystems", he said, which throws Nokia together with other Windows Phone makers such as Samsung, HTC and LG in an unlikely army. Apple sits on the opposing side, along with many of the very same companies in their guise as Android phone makers.

Elop also emphasised his new-found friendship with Qualcomm, a company Nokia has battled in the courts for years over patent claims. Qualcomm's Snapdragon processors already power all existing Windows Phones, and they're likely to be the brains of the next wave of Nokia phones, which we expect to arrive late this year.