Nokia on Friday announced its rumored smartphone partnership with Microsoft, sending its stock price diving as it scared shareholders and stirred mixed feelings from industry observers.
The Finnish vendor revealed it will design a range of exclusive Windows Phone 7 smartphones that will line up alongside existing Symbian and forthcoming MeeGo devices.
Recently-appointed chief Stephen Elop said the firm is embarking on a new path “aimed at regaining our smartphone leadership,” and “reinforcing our mobile device platform.”
He noted the firm is “at a critical juncture, where significant change is necessary and inevitable.”
Nokia’s proposed alliance with Microsoft will make WP7 the vendor’s primary smartphone platform. Nokia will have a hand in shaping the future development of Microsoft’s mobile software, and the two firms will look to combine services to promote new applications and device features.
The tie-up doesn’t spell the end for Symbian or MeeGo, however. The long-established Symbian platform will be offered as a franchise product, while MeeGo becomes and open source OS, focused on next-generation devices.
A new divisional structure will meanwhile launch on April 1 that splits the handset business into two clear segments – smart devices and mobile phones.
Despite the revelations of sweeping changes, the vendor is cautious on the short-term impact of the changes, noting that 2011 and 2012 will be “transition years,” focused on building a Windows ecosystem.