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Nokia-soft: cause for celebration?

Yesterday Microsoft CEO Steve Balmer joined former employee-cum-Nokia CEO Stephan Elop to announce a newly formed partnership between two of the world's largest companies, in which Nokia would adopt Windows Phone 7 as its primary smartphone platform. Smart move? Absolutely.

commentary Yesterday Microsoft CEO Steve Balmer joined former employee-cum-Nokia CEO Stephan Elop to announce a newly formed partnership between two of the world's largest companies, in which Nokia would adopt Windows Phone 7 as its primary smartphone platform. Smart move? Absolutely.

I don't approach this opinion as a business analyst. We know that Nokia's shares plummeted on the announcement of the decision and that redundancies at Nokia are an inevitability in the short term; the future is still shaky and unknown. This is me celebrating for purely selfish reasons.

From a consumer perspective this is a big win. There is a reason Nokia has managed to maintain its position as the number one smartphone manufacturer despite its outclassed Symbian OS. In the last three years we've seen some truly beautiful phones come out of the Finnish firm: from the brushed metal of the E-series to the unique aluminium unibody of last year's N8. And let's not forget Nokia's excellent mid-range 6000 series. While most mobile makers turn to cheap plastic finishes for its under AU$500 phones, Nokia maintains sleek metal bodies with handsets like the 6700.

Then we have Windows Phone 7, and though there are a number of obvious and well documented shortcomings, this is a great system in its infancy. Without overlooking its lack of common features, like copy and paste and internet sharing, Microsoft definitely succeeded in creating an attractive system that is fast and very easy to use — everything Nokia's Symbian OS is not.

As part of this new partnership Nokia will contribute to the evolution of Windows Phone, offering the company's years of expertise to fill in the gaps and to hopefully mature the Windows Phone quicker than if Microsoft was left to finish the system itself. We also can't forget that Nokia owns some very important assets. There's Nokia Music in amongst the rest of the Ovi suite and more importantly Nokia Maps. This certainly isn't a simple matter of copying and pasting elements of Symbian to Windows Phone (pun intended), but I'm looking forward to seeing what this new smartphone love-in can produce.

Finally, this partnership means that we, the smartphone lovers of the world, benefit from the continued innovations from two great companies. There was a risk of the mobile world being dominated within a tug of war between Apple's iOS and Google's Android. Nokia and Microsoft together, alongside Research In Motion which continues to stand alone, guarantees that we will see new and competitive concepts from more than a few great minds.