Nokia Kills Symbian Ahead of Windows Phone 7 Launch

Global handset giant Nokia is pulling Symbian-based phones from the North American market in preparation for the launch of its Windows Phone 7 devices this fall. At the heart of the move is a question: Nokia and Microsoft are two mobile underdogs that will need to bring their respective strengths to bear to achieve their global goals for success. Is it enough to make a mark against the Android army and the Apple-heads?

The move to pull Symbian is no real surprise: Nokia announced last February that it would say farewell to its proprietary Symbian operating system and instead start to build smartphones on Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 OS, with release dates in time for the holiday shopping season. With Nokia losing market share quarter over quarter – in reality, it’s a pale shadow of the No. 1 global handset status it enjoyed just two years ago – the switch-up can come none too soon.

"When we launch Windows Phones we will essentially be out of the Symbian business, the S40 business, etc.," Nokia's U.S. President Chris Weber, told AllThingsD.

Nokia has never been ascendant in the U.S. market, but it hopes to change that by embracing Microsoft’s homegrown OS. To boot, around the world, Android and Apple iPhone have been steadily eating away at its market share as the Symbian OS has proven to be unable to keep up with cutting edge smartphone functionality.

When Nokia announced that Microsoft would be its new mobile OS partner, many were shocked, having expected the Finnish handset maker to strike a deal with Android instead. But Nokia and Microsoft in many ways need each other.

Nokia still commands a big incumbent position in many markets and has the manufacturing clout to help Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 gain the global distribution and critical mass it needs to achieve a significant position in the mobile OS landscape. To date, Microsoft has languished in the wireless game, and in the consumer market especially, and has hoped its revamped mobile OS will change all of that. But it needs reach.

Meanwhile, according to AllThingsD, Nokia will pursue a carrier distribution model rather than the unlocked tactic it has been known for in the past. That strategy puts it in line with the typical way that consumers in the U.S. and Canada are used to buying their mobile phones. Microsoft helps here: It brings to the table crucial relationships with carriers like AT&T, which Nokia lacks.

In short, in Nokia and in Microsoft we have two mobile underdogs that will need to bring their respective strengths to bear to achieve their global goals for success. Only time will tell if the gambit is successful.


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