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Nokia Boss Hints At Android Or Phone 7 Move

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

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Stephen Elop says Nokia may need a new ecosystem… Android, or Windows Phone 7?

Nokia boss Stephen Elop has given his strongest hint yet that Nokia could be about to adopt another mobile operating system, with Android or Windows Phone 7 the two obvious choices.

Former Microsoft executive Elop triggered the speculation, with a passing comment made during Nokia’s disappointing Q4 2010 financial results.

“In addition to great device experiences we must build, capitalise and/or join a competitive ecosystem,” Elop was quoted as saying, as he discussed Nokia’s financial figures. “The ecosystem approach we select must be comprehensive and cover a wide range of utilities and services that customers expect today and anticipate in the future.”

Mobile OS Confusion

The use of the word ecosystem has led many to assume he is talking about a mobile operating system or some form of app platform.

Until now Nokia has always publicly stated that Symbian and MeeGo are the smart-phone operating system it is backing to take on the likes of the iPhone, Android and BlackBerry.

But this is not the first time that Elop has reportedly considered another operating system.

Back in September last year for example, Venture Beat, cited ‘trusted sources’ close to Nokia when it revealed that Elop was considering Nokia adopting Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7. This Nokia/Windows Phone 7 rumour resurfaced in December, this time from Russian blogger Eldar Murtazin, and speculation still continues.

There is little doubt that Nokia’s platform strategy is in disarray at the moment. Nokia’s OS of choice has until recently been Symbian, despite criticism of its apparent clunky user interface.

Symbian Turmoil

But it became clear that Nokia had recognised the need for change when it publicly stated last year that it was going to drop Symbian^3 OS from its flagship N range handsets.

It later backtracked on this, but question marks continued about Symbian’s future.

In September both Samsung and Sony Ericsson announced that they were dropping the operating system from their handsets. And then in October Symbian’s CEO Lee Williams resigned.

That same month Symbian critic, Nick Jones of Gartner hinted at the possible closure of the Symbian Foundation, but just days later it received a 22 million euro cash injection from the EU and the Symbeose consortium.

Then in November the axe fell for the Foundation with the news that the Symbian Foundation would transition into a licensing organisation and Nokia would take over development of the platform. Nokia also publicly pledged to support Symbian, which is still, y the numbers, the world’s most popular mobile operating system.

Nokia meanwhile continues to work on the open-source MeeGo operating system in conjunction with chip giant Intel, although it has yet to appear on any Nokia handsets. Ovum has previously warned that MeeGo will need considerable investment to succeed.