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Nokia CEO hints at tablet, explains why he was worried about Samsung's Android dominance

Ben Grubb (via SMH) | Feb. 5, 2013
Nokia CEO Stephen Elop has hinted at launching a Windows tablet and spoken candidly about why Nokia ditched its own operating system and picked Windows over Android, saying that Nokia was "very worried" about Samsung's expected monopoly in the Android space.

He said they were "very favourably abreast" of Nokia's products. "It's really good to see."

Why Windows and not Android

Mr Elop, a former Microsoft executive, also spoke about his decision to ditch the company's own Symbian operating system on high-end smartphones in favour of Windows instead of Google's Android and said he hoped to bring Windows Phone into "double digit" market share but would not give a time frame in which to reach the target.

Microsoft, whose Windows Phone market share currently sits somewhere between 2 and 4 per cent, paid Nokia billions of dollars to switch to Windows Phone in February 2011.

Mr Elop said Nokia ditched its own software as it "was seen as a much higher risk" to continue using it. It also ditched it because Windows Phone allowed it to differentiate, he said.

After the agreement with Microsoft was signed in 2011, Mr Elop said back then that Nokia had been courted by Google as well, which sought to convince it to use its Android software.

Android licensing 'constricted'

In the end he went with Windows, explaining on Monday that part of the reason why he chose the platform over Android was due to the fact Google's Android licensing was becoming restrictive.

"If you watch very carefully as to what's happening with the changes to the open handset alliance agreement and the work Google has done on their contracting, it's become more and more constricted over time in terms of what you're allowed to do," Mr Elop said.

"And so that was something that we had concerns about, forecasted and now you see it coming into practise. Yes you can call it open source, but in practicality you're getting more and more constrained on what's possible in that environment."

He added that Google's licensing arrangements would've meant Google Maps came pre-loaded on any Nokia device, moving the focus away from Nokia's own mapping applications.

"[Nokia's mapping assets] would have been less valuable to us at that point," Mr Elop said.

"So that's part of the calculus."

Another reason Google's Android operating system wasn't picked was because Nokia was worried it would be entering Android too late in the smartphone game, Mr Elop said.

"[We] were very worried that because we would be entering Android late relative to everyone else in the industry, that perhaps one vendor was well on the road to becoming the dominant Android vendor at the expense of everybody else," Mr Elop said.

"If you look back two years when we made the decision Samsung was big, HTC was pretty big, Motorola was pretty big. And of course what's happened in the [last] two years, Samsung has captured the lion's share but the others have been squeezed down to [a] very small market share even though they started with much larger," Mr Elop said. "So we were worried about exactly that pattern forming and whether we would be able to break through with that."


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