Nokia hanging up on Symbian in U.S., Canada

In preparation for launching its first Windows Phones, Nokia is saying goodbye to Symbian in much of North America, according to a report from All Things D.

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Nokia Astound

In preparation for honoring its commitments to make Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 operating system Nokia's primary OS going forward, the Finnish cell phone maker will stop selling Symbian smartphones and feature phones in the U.S. and Canada, according to All Things D.

In addition, Nokia will apparently wave goodbye to its traditional model of selling many of its higher-end phones unlocked, says All Things D's Ina Fried, and will work more closely with wireless carriers to price and distribute Nokia's Windows Phones. This is a wise move that will give Nokia its best chance for competing against other Windows Phone vendors, and subsidized Android phones as well.

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"When we launch Windows Phones we will essentially be out of the Symbian business, the S40 business, etc.," Nokia's U.S. President, Chris Weber, told Fried in a story published today.

Interestingly, Nokia's plans for the U.S. contradicts Nokia CEO Stephen Elop's promise in May that Nokia would stick by Symbian until 2016.

"We're in a period where the investment in Symbian absolutely continues," Elop had said.

Even if Elop's pledge was only meant to apply to existing Symbian users in specific global markets, like China, it isn't surprising to see Nokia gather forces in the U.S., the home of Nokia's adoptive Windows Phone OS, and Canada, the stomping grounds of Nokia's Elop.

Nokia still faces steep hurdles in forging tighter bonds with carriers, relationships that are crucial to getting its new, untested phones into carriers' lineups at competitive rates. Making matters trickier yet will be convincing carriers of Windows Phone itself, which is still a newbie smartphone platform and has struggled with sales.

Adding a third layer of complexity is Nokia's best bet for exposure, T-Mobile. Although T-Mobile currently carries the Nokia Astound, there's no guarantee that a fruitful relationship will survive a successful T-Mobile merger with AT&T.

With its work cut out for it, it's none too early for Nokia to refocus its North American presence in preparation for launching Windows Phones. For their sake, we hope it's not too late to push off Nokia's new ventures in this pocket of the world.