Nokia-Microsoft: Two Turkeys Don’t Make An Eagle?


A tie-up between Nokia and Microsoft could be on the cards, says Clint Boulton. But some people don’t want to see it happen.

What will Nokia CEO Stephen Elop do to douse the “burning platform,” which is how he allegedly characterised MeeGo, Symbian and the Symbian app ecosystem in a memo to his soldiers.

Tech watchers have been speculating since Elop left Microsoft for Nokia, that he could pick Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 or Google’s Android operating systems as a new operating system to run on Nokia’s vaunted hardware.

Symbian just isn’t cutting it anymore, as the latest worldwide smartphone stats show.

Ironic then that Google VP of Engineering Vic Gundotra dropped this quasi-cryptic tweet Feb. 8: “Two turkeys do not make an eagle.”

The sentence in itself seems like a non sequitur, but when you look at the #feb 11 hash tag, it’s anything but. That’s because Nokia’s Capital Markets Day kicks off Feb. 11, in London.

With that single line, Gundotra appeared to dispel any rumor that Nokia would be betting on the Android horse. Indeed, a BusinessWeek report supported Gundotra’s jibe today:

“Nokia Chief Executive Officer Stephen Elop has held talks with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer about putting Microsoft’s mobile operating system on Nokia phones, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the discussions were private. Elop also held talks with Google CEO Eric Schmidt about using Google’s Android software, the person said. Those discussions are unlikely to lead to an alliance, according to another person familiar with the matter.”

Gundotra’s disdain for Microsoft, his former employer, is well chronicled, so the easy math is that Windows Phone 7 is the second turkey to Nokia’s fat bird of Symbian.

How fun is this? Gundotra’s point is well made. As I noted last week, Nokia’s smartphone market share was 31 percent, 4 percent less than the year-ago period. Nokia’s profit for the three months ended Dec. 31 was $1.02 billion, down 21 percent from a year earlier.

Meanwhile, Canalys said Android had passed Nokia in smartphone shipments for the fourth quarter. Then there’s the burning platform memo and that rumor that Elop is planning a management overhaul. Need we note more on Nokia?

Moreover, Windows Phone 7 appears to be, if not DOA, at least in need of a shot in the arm after shipping just 2 million units to carriers. That’s disappointing after Apple and Android shipped several million for the holiday season.

Is Nokia that shot? It has the brand, but it also has the smell of carrion in some ways.

And to continue Gundotra’s metaphor, if Symbian and Windows Phone 7 are turkeys, does that make Android and Apple iOS, vultures snarfling up the market share from those birds?

That remains to be seen, but this is getting fun.

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