MWC: Elop defends Microsoft partnership

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Nokia chief executive Stephen Elop says new strategy will create a “challenger” brand to Android and Apple

Nokia chief executive Stephen Elop has defended the manufacturers decision to partner Microsoft and its Windows Phone 7 operating platform at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Speaking in the Catalonian city, Elop reiterated the reasons for the decision to get into bed with Microsoft, and turning down the option to partner with Google’s Android.

After announcing its major strategic shift to press and financial analysts on Friday the company’s share price nosedived close to 14 per cent (NYSE).

But Elop argued the company was right not to partner Android and to position the forthcoming Nokia and Microsoft handsets as a “challenger” brand. To have opted to partner Android would have created a “duopoly” according to Elop, while the new Nokia and Microsoft phones will be the “challenger in a three horse race”.

The Nokia boss reiterated his comments from Friday’s announcement that the partnership was more than just a case of Nokia paying Microsoft a licensing fee for Windows Phone 7, while at the same time reducing its operational expenditure.

“There is the sense that that is the totality of the relationship,” Elop said, but pointed out that its provision of Ovi maps to Microsoft as well as other technological services, and Nokia receiving advertising revenue for the first time, made the relationship a deeper one than some had reported since Friday’s announcement.

The company refused to disclose when the first Nokia and Windows 7 phones will be released but it is aiming for a 2011 launch.

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