Nokia has struck a partnership with Microsoft to make Windows Phone 7 its primary smartphone operating system, as the phone maker aims to regain lost market share from Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android platform.
The deal will see Nokia adopt Windows Phone as its “principle smartphone strategy” while contributing its expertise on hardware design and language support so that it can bring the software platform to “a larger range of price points, market segments and geographies.” Nokia added it will innovate “on top of the platform” in areas like imaging.
Nokia’s Chief Executive Stephen Elop said that “Nokia and Microsoft will combine our strengths to deliver an ecosystem with unrivalled global reach and scale. It’s now a three-horse race.”
The companies are also merging their services: Microsoft’s Bing search engine will power search services across Nokia devices, with Microsoft adCenter providing search advertising services.
Nokia Maps will be integrated with Bing’s search engine, and its content store will also be folded into Microsoft Marketplace.
Nokia meanwhile is moving its focus away from longstanding operating system Symbian, saying it would become a “franchise platform” that would look to previous investments to harvest value.
The firm said it will retaining but also “transition” the installed base of 200 million Symbian owners, though it added it expected to sell approximately 150 million more Symbian devices in the years to come.
Meanwhile Nokia’s standalone Meego smartphone operating system, set to launch on a number of smartphones later this year, is now to become an open source project.
Meego will focuses more on next-generation devices and Nokie said it would ship a MeeGo-related product later this year.
The company appears to be moving its focus away from Meego, evident in the announced exit of Alberto Torres, who was responsible for responsible for developing solutions and devices based on the MeeGo platform.
“I am excited about this partnership with Nokia,” said Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s Chief Executive. “Ecosystems thrive when fuelled by speed, innovation and scale. The partnership announced today provides incredible scale, vast expertise in hardware and software innovation and a proven ability to execute.”
The announcement sets the stage for today’s long-awaited Capital Markets Day for Nokia in London, in which new CEO Elop, a former executive of Microsoft, is scheduled to lay out a new strategy for the company.
Nokia also renamed its Executive Board as its new Leadership Team, consisting of executives including Mary McDowell and Niklas Savander – previous reports had suggested that the two would be shown the exit as part of Elop’s reshuffling of management.
The company is also changing its structure: from April 1 it will divide itself into two business units: Smart Devices and Mobile Phones, with the former focusing on high-end smartphones and the latter, mass-market mobile phones.
View a video from Nokia announcing the partnership below: