Nokia's U.S. Plan: Windows Phone 7 Stands Alone

Counting on Microsoft partnership to pay off, Finnish phone maker cuts Symbian products from U.S. smartphone lineup.
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Nokia will no longer sell smartphones and feature phones based on the Symbian operating system in the U.S. once the company's partnership with Microsoft takes effect with the debut of devices powered by Windows Phone 7.

"When we launch Windows Phones we will essentially be out of the Symbian business, the $40 business, etc.," said Nokia president Chris Weber, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal's All Things D tech blog.

"It will be Windows Phone and the accessories around that. The reality is if we are not successful with Windows Phone, it doesn't matter what we do" in other markets, said Weber. Weber, in a separate interview with VentureBeat, said the first Windows Phone 7 devices from Nokia would ship in volume in the U.S. in 2012--meaning they won't likely be available in time for the upcoming holiday season.

Weber said Nokia's phones would incorporate the "Live Tiles" interface that sets Windows Phone 7 apart from the icon-based home screens of Apple iPhone and Google Android phones. Live Tiles feed real-time messages and data from apps such as Facebook and Office directly to the main user interface.

Nokia also now has no plans to introduce its highly anticipated, MeeGo-based N9 into the U.S. The device, viewed by many pundits as the company's slickest offering to date, features a unique touch screen that lets users return to the main interface from any app with a single swipe of the finger.

Nokia's decision to kill its Symbian line in the U.S. shouldn't be too surprising. Symbian's market share in the country fell to just 2% in June, down from 2.3% in the first quarter, according to the latest data from comScore. Microsoft's share, including Windows Phone 7 and Windows Mobile devices, fell to 5.8% over the same period, while Google Android's market-leading share jumped to 40.1%, from 34.7%.

Nokia in April handed off development and support for Symbian to Accenture, and cut 7,000 related jobs. As part of the deal, Accenture became the premier system integrator in support of Nokia's Windows Phone 7 transition and development efforts.

It's not clear for how much longer Symbian will continue to ship Symbian-based phones outside the U.S.

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