According to reports in IT Wire and elsewhere, Finnish phone giant Nokia has entertained talks with Microsoft about the possibility of running Windows Mobile on Nokia's smartphones.
The stories are so far uncorroborated by either firm.
Nokia, which offers a broad range of handheld devices, currently uses either its own Nokia Series 40 realtime operating system or the Symbian OS on its devices. It has invested vast sums in the development and maintenance of the Symbian mobile operating system, which is developed by a consortium including Nokia, Ericsson, Panasonic, Samsung, Siemens and Sony Ericsson.
In the third quarter of 2007, there were 20,4 million Symbian smartphones shipped by licensees, up 56% from Q3 2006. There have been 165 million Symbian smartphones shipped since the formation of Symbian, and there are now 134 Symbian smartphone models commercially available.
Clearly this is little more than rumour at this stage. Although we believe it is unlikely Nokia would want to sell smartphones running Widows Mobile, we have to concede it is not impossible.
We note that Nokia has already licensed Microsoft's ActiveSync synchronisation technology in order to give its smartphones direct synchronisation with Microsoft Exchange Servers, and no doubt Nokia meets Microsoft regularly to discuss this and other trends in the mobile space. So Nokia meeting Microsoft does not mean the talks were about supporting Windows Mobile at all.
But analysts say that Nokia's S60 handset, which targets mobile enterprise users, based on Symbian of course, has perhaps not reached all of the parts of the enterprise market that Windows Mobile could reach.
For example, when Palm controversially announced that it would support Windows Mobile as well as its own Palm OS, its CEO Ed Colligan said the reason was that there are some enterprises that consider themselves Microsoft-only shops, and who therefore prefer Windows Mobile on their devices to Palm OS. Nokia could also decide it is better to offer enterprises a choice of smartphone operating systems.
But when Palm made its Windows Mobile announcement it had already sold off its Palm OS division to Access, and it was clear that the Palm OS was far less strategic to Palm than Symbian currently is to Nokia.
So on balance, we do not think there is likely to be much behind these rumours.