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Sunday, July 10

Who is going to buy a Nokia without a Windows Phone now

Nokia has seen its share of the smartphone market slide as its handsets based on the Symbian operating system (OS) went from being top dogs to struggling contenders. There was talk that the Finnish firm would be partnering with a different OS developer for its future projects, a rumour which proved to be true when it recently announced a deal with Microsoft to bring Windows Phone 7 to its next array of smartphones. However, Nokia does not seem to be abandoning its other platforms outright as Symbian is being kept alive in the short term on models like the X7 and E6. The announcement of the Nokia N9, a smartphone based on the MeeGo OS, caused even more speculation that Nokia might not be putting all its eggs in the Windows Phone 7 basket.

The question now is whether consumers should bother investing in a Nokia handset which is not based on Microsoft’s platform. The phasing out of Symbian handsets seems inevitable not only because of poor critical reception but also because the incremental improvements have done little to revive the flagging OS. The Nokia N9 muddies the issue further, because this high end handset is branching of on an entirely different path with software that will not be found on any other mobile. Whether it is an evolutionary dead end, as Nokia CEO Stephen Elop seems to suggest, or the start of a dual platform strategy for the firm remains to be seen.
One interesting aspect of the Nokia N9 is that its hardware and design seems to be the basis for the first Windows Phone 7 handset which is being produced within the manufacturer. Its four inch AMOLED display, eight megapixel camera and 1GHz processor match up with Microsoft’s minimum requirements and spy shots of N9-style mobiles running Windows Phone 7 have leaked online, firming up this point of view.
Of course Nokia has created phones with unique platforms in the past, with the N900 being the most recent example of this. Running the Maemo 5 operating system it confounded average users with its interface, although won approval amongst technophiles thanks to its flexibility. The Nokia N9 looks to be much more user-friendly, although the CEO has made several attempts to assert that the firm will not be working on any other MeeGo-based smartphones, making the N9 even more special.
The death of Symbian as a primary Nokia mobile OS seems certain, but that does not mean that Nokia is not dedicated to providing continued support for the platform. This is good news for anyone who has bought an X7 or E6 handset in recent months on a two year contract, because you will want to see your mobile getting the updates it needs to stay relevant over the life of your deal. Windows Phone 7 is definitely the future for Nokia, but its history as a Symbian supporter will not be soon forgotten.