updated 03:05 pm EST, Thu February 7, 2008
Nokia Win Mobile Talks
Microsoft is discussing the possiblity of Nokia releasing smartphones with Windows Mobile installed, the former company's mobile marketing director John Starkweather says. Without committing to any definite plans, the executive notes that the move is an attempt to have Nokia's support for Microsoft technologies "extend completely" to include the mobile OS itself, rather than just supporting key features. Starkweather refers to hooks for Microsoft's ActiveSync feature that provides live Exchange contact and calendar updates as well as compatibility with PlaysForSure, the foundation of protected Windows Media used across a number of major online music stores.
While Nokia remains heavily invested in Symbian, a partial or complete shift would have a dramatic effect on the smartphone market, tilting the balance in favor of Windows Mobile. Symbian currently leads the smartphone market with 65 percent of all devices shipping with some variant on the software versus Windows Mobile's 12 percent. Nokia itself is responsible for nearly 53 percent of the entire smartphone market and so would help Windows Mobile account for a much larger portion of the market.
At present, no one company producing Windows Mobile ranks higher than Motorola, which sits behind Apple in fourth place at 6.5 percent of 2007 smartphone share. The remaining 5.5 percent of Windows Mobile smartphones are distributed among companies that only produce a small number of Windows smartphones, such as Samsung, as well as smaller but dedicated Windows Mobile houses such as HTC and i-mate. Symbian is shared between Nokia as well as Motorola, Sony-Ericsson, and periodic releases by Samsung.
No joint announcements between Microsoft and Nokia are known so far, though the earliest opportunity would be next week's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.