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Nokia mulling Windows Phone 7?

Nokia has just installed former Microsoft executive Stephen Elop as its chief executive officer…and it hasn’t taken long for speculation to emerge that the Finnish mobile titan might tighten its ties with the Redmond software giant. Citing sources “familiar with these matters,” VentureBeat claims Nokia is considering Windows Phone 7 as a way to quickly gain traction in the North American smartphone market.

In some respects, it makes sense for Nokia to consider WIndows Phone 7: Nokia has partnered with Microsoft on a range of mobile and communications technologies in the past, and Microsoft has even rolled out an enterprise-oriented hub for Nokia devices. Elop’s past experience at Microsoft could help the two companies quickly come to an arrangement, and having the world’s largest handset maker get behind the WIndows Phone 7 platform would be a major win for Microsoft.

On the other hand, Nokia has invested significantly in bringing its Symbian operating system, Qt development environment, and Ovi App store to a level where it believes it can compete meaningfully with Apple’s App Store—and attract developers to the platform. Nokia also has a high-profile partnership with Intel on the open source MeeGo mobile operating system, and is reportedly slated to bring its first MeeGo devices to market later this year. Microsoft has also just put the finishing touches on Windows Phone 7 and shipped it off to device manufacturers who have committed to the platform, including Samsung, Asus, Dell, Acer, HTC, and LG: if Nokia were to join the Windows Phone 7 party, it would be getting off to a very late start.

A Nokia spokesperson has told Bloomberg (via text message!) that Nokia has no plans to use Windows Phone 7.

Most industry watchers don’t think Nokia is seriously considering Windows Phone 7 devices. The company is currently working to support three major mobile operating systems—Sybian, MeeGo, and the Series 40 OS that runs the entry-level devices that are currently Nokia’s bread and butter in emerging markets. If anything, Nokia is likely considering reducing the number of mobile platforms it has to support, rather than adding yet another—especially an unproven, proprietary mobile operating system.

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