Microsoft and Nokia are still dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s in their broad deal that will see Nokia embracing the Windows Phone for its future smartphones, but the company is already jumping in with both feet: according to Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, Nokia is already working on its first Windows Phone devices. Nokia has promised it will get Windows Phone devices to market by 2012, but Elop is optimistic the company may bring a device to market this year.
In an interview with Reuters, Elop also indicates that Nokia considered a partnership with Google to build devices for Android, but ultimately decided it would be too difficult to differentiate Nokia devices in a sea of existing Android offerings. Windows Phone, conversely, was a relatively clean slate, being a brand-new smartphone platform with only a small number of devices available from a few makers—all of whom are also making Android devices.
Elop also indicated he sees no reason Microsoft would be interested in acquiring Nokia as its handset division, noting the considerable antitrust scrutiny and turmoil such a transaction would bring down on the companies—both of which have essentially missed the boat on the smartphone revolution.
Nokia remains the world’s largest maker of mobile handsets, but most of those units are entry-level devices sold into developing and emerging markets, not the high-margin smartphones that are increasingly favored by consumers in developing markets. Despite being an early pioneer in Internet-connected phones, Nokia has yet to launch a response to Apple’s iPhone—which hit the market in 2007—and has all but vanished from the North American phone market, where RIM, Blackberry, and Apple have emerged as smartphone market leaders. Nokia plans to sunset its current Symbian platform over the next few years as the company shifts all its attention to devices running on Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform, where Nokia will apparently have exclusive access to customize the operating system and contribute technology to the platform.
Nokia’s stock price has fallen nearly 30 percent since the company announced its partnership with Microsoft, and currently hovers near a ten-year low.