Nokia Claims Motorola Buy Justifies WinPhone Move

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Nokia CEO Stephen Elop says Google’s Motorola acquisition justifies his decision to embrace Windows Phone

Google rivals continue to voice their reservations about the search-engine giant’s $12.5 billion (£7.6bn) acquisition of Motorola Mobility.

“If I happened to be someone who was an Android manufacturer or an operator, or anyone with a stake in that environment,” Nokia CEO Stephen Elop (a former Microsoft executive) told a crowd in Helsinki, according to Reuters, “I would be picking up my phone and calling certain executives at Google and say, ‘I see signs of danger ahead’.”

Elop also used Google’s acquisition to justify his own decision earlier this year to side Nokia with Microsoft Windows Phone rather than Android. He said, “The very first reaction I had was very clearly the importance of the third ecosystem and the importance of the partnership we announced on February 11; it is more clear than ever before.”

Dealing The Impartial Partner Card

Elop’s comments echo those of Microsoft’s Windows Phone Division president Andy Lees, who wrote in a widely circulated statement that “investing in a broad and truly open mobile ecosystem is important for the industry and consumers alike, and Windows Phone is now the only platform that does so with equal opportunity for all partners”.

It seems that Microsoft’s early strategy against the Google-Motorola deal is to try to peel away Google’s hardware partners, who could be upset over Motorola’s new position as the favoured child.

“The likes of Samsung, HTC and LG obviously don’t have any other choice than to say at this point that they welcome the deal,” Florian Mueller, an intellectual property analyst, wrote in a posting on his blog. “But there’s no way that they can compete with a Google-owned Motorola Mobility on a level playing field.”

That could drive those manufacturers into taking another look at Windows Phone. “Forrester can hear [Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer] and company pitching the Asian players on how Microsoft is the only hardware-agnostic player left,” John McCarthy, an analyst with Forrester, wrote in a corporate blog posting, “and that HTC, Samsung and LG should increase their support for [Microsoft smartphones] as protection against Google.”

Strengthened manufacturing partnerships could certainly help Windows Phone. Microsoft’s smartphone share stood at 1.6 percent for the second quarter of 2011, according to research firm Gartner, down from 4.9 percent a year ago. That compares with Google Android with 43.4 percent, Nokia’s Symbian with 22.1 percent, Apple iOS with 18.2 percent, RIM’s BlackBerry franchise with 11.7 percent, and Bada – a mobile OS developed by Samsung – with 1.9 percent.

Microsoft hopes to further counter the competitive pressures of Android and iOS with its upcoming “Mango” update, which will include expanded functionality for the Xbox Live and Office hubs, new multitasking abilities and Bing deeply baked into the user interface.

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