It's no secret that Finnish company Nokia is fully vested in Microsoft's Windows Phone venture, but just how much of their design is their credit is now being questioned by Microsoft.

Nokia has prided itself in design and simplicity in the face of increasingly detailed designs from competitors like Apple and HTC, a tactic that has helped Microsoft secure itself as the number three mobile operating system in the world. But in a recent interview of Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, he was asked about the future of their devices and what the new designs would be like. Elop was hesitant to admit much but was adamant that "we should be excited."

While Elop didn't get into too much detail, he was immediately overshadowed by Microsoft's Senior Marketing Manager Casey McGee on their influence over Nokia. "I am very happy with the relationship and the ability to influence what they are doing," referring to the hardware design of Nokia smartphones, said McGee.

This raises a few issues as to the relationship between Nokia and Microsoft. For starters, Nokia is their main distributor of Windows Phone devices. The fact that there is design influence is not surprising, but how much influence they have over Nokia is questionable. A few weeks ago, I wrote an editorial citing an SEC filing from Nokia claiming increased influence over Microsoft's role in Windows Phone. The SEC filing basically admitted that Nokia was concerned over Microsoft's likelihood that they could drop Nokia as a handset, and take the distribution of Windows Phone handsets in house. It would line up with the sporadic Microsoft Surface phone rumors that have been circling for a few years.

Pair the SEC filing with McGee's recent spilling of the beans and it seems that there could be some tension growing between the two companies.

According to ZDNet, Nokia received $250 million per quarter from Microsoft as a "platform support payment," which is a royalty to run Windows Phone on Nokia handsets. As compared to Nokia's total revenue in 2012, the Finnish company reported $40 billion, down 22 percent from 2011 ($51.6 billion). This was no doubt heavily influenced by Windows Phone's lack of traction in mobile.

In other words, less than a tenth of Nokia's revenue came from Microsoft's platform support payments. Nokia's smartphone business is also shipping half as many devices as compared to 2011, whereas non-smartphone shipments of 301 million are about on par with 2011's shipments. These devices do not run Microsoft's mobile operating system.

Having said this, Nokia's position seems to be a bit more one-sided than it looks from the outside. My perspective of Nokia smartphones has always gone hand in hand with Microsoft, but judging by McGee's quote on their influence of Nokia handset design, I'm beginning to think Nokia may be better off without them.

I'm curious what Nokia could come up with running a different mobile operating system. I have faith that it could be a competitive alternative to Apple's iPhone and Samsung's Galaxy S series.

My ideal Nokia handset was always synonymous with the Windows Phone operating system. I'd associate the hardware with the software, instead of the software with the hardware. From my perspective, Nokia looks like Windows Phone and since it's a clear number three in the mobile operating system arena, I'm beginning to think they're being held back by Microsoft's mobile OS.

If Nokia were to release the famed Lumia 928 running another OS, say Android with a user interface developed by Nokia, I fail to see how it would attract less attention than the same hardware running Microsoft's Windows Phone.

To top it off, I have always ranked HTC's Windows Phone 8X as the epitome of what hardware should accompany Microsoft's mobile OS, and I can't help but think Nokia is losing out to potential sales and revenue from Google's Android, and manufacturers like HTC who can deliver a solid Windows Phone experience, too.

In other words, it seems that Nokia handsets are playing it safe with the Windows Phone operating system because of Microsoft's dedication to the mobile space. Though they've had less than stellar market share and attention since their partnership, what you have to look at is growth and the mind share they've managed to acquire.

And in 2013, the end result seems less than stellar for either manufacturer.

I'm interested to hear your thoughts on Nokia and Microsoft's partnership this year. Do you think they work well together, or would you rather see Nokia hardware paired with a different operating system?

Images via DigitalTrends and TechnoBuffalo.

Update: We have been contacted by Microsoft's PR agency stating that the original context of the source of the article was "taken out of context in the original story." The exact wording is as follows: "Microsoft works closely with all Windows Phone manufacturers to deliver an innovative OS and a well-defined chassis specification so that customers and developers have a great experience across all devices. The hardware and design achievements that manufacturers such as Nokia add to the Windows Phone chassis specification are their own."


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112 Reactions to this post

"Do you think Nokia would be more successful running a different operating system?"


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Humza Ahmed Would it kill them to produce a sort of test Android device, and then release it to the public, then they could make the decision based on the customer feedback.
Kay Njuguna duuuuh!!!
Bryce Jordan duh. it would b better w/ android
Gavin Rodriguez Uh...yes.:
Curtis Owens head for Ubuntu/linux! it is working towards making a new mobile OS
Cezzar Micu Yes. If Lumia 920 were on Android, my phone wouldn't be the Note 2... Or maybe I would have them both
Petar Iliev Why limit to one system - see HTC. Nokia is 1,5 if not more years behind them, so yes they are hold back
Pravas Kumar Is that a question??
Andrei Jelin Yes and yes!
Faheem Taj there is nothing wrong . Nokia should launch at least 2 solid android phone per year. to stay in the game.
Jaswinder Singh Yes definitely. Microsoft is killing Nokia slowly. Nokia needs to break out of windows shell.
Amit Kataria Nokia could have been leading the pack by now if they would've opted for Android instead of Windows Phone.
Ryan G. Bordner Thats almost embarrassing as buying your gf an anniversary gift from the dollar store. Nokias beautiful hardware +Windows Phone 8= Beauty.
Adrian Salazar I think they should all least come out with one premium device to see how it does and make judgment on how it does
Durgesh Chandra Pathak Long back, when Nokia was deciding to go with windows os, I wrote no their facebook page requesting to go for Android but they felt their future is secure with windows (thats what they replied). I knew it was a blunder and so it happens. Had Lumia 920 run on Android, say Jelly Bean, it could have ripped off the competition. Still they can make it. Android is free to use so they can keep prices also low rather than following Samsung's practice of pricing the devices 3-4 times of it cost
Timothy D Alston I'd like to see android on Nokia
Ian Onilla probably would do better with android, but in my opinion that's like LeBron joining the heat.. a for sure win. But where is the sense of accomplishment in joining a winning team? Everyone loves an underdog, and if Nokia pulls it off with windows then that's what I would consider a TRUE accomplishment. Why compete in a race against Samsung in an Android market when you could be number 1 in a growing operating system that will eventually find it's way among the top companies. The market is to big for just Apple and Android and people will want change sooner or later. Everything just needs time.
Jordan Forman When I broke the screen on my Nexus 4 I went back to my spare 920, and while I LOVE this phone's design and feel, WP8 is just not "there" yet. Android on a 920 would be amazing.
Teron Facey I would love to try out a Nokia Android phone.
Vaibhav Agarwal yes very true
Michael Kerr If Nokia went with android they would be bigger than Samsung
Lynell Sumerian Sandifer Nokia needs to switch to the android OS
Vivek Sinha Absolutely!
Murtaza Rzv no way
Philip Robinson Yes they would, prob android or some Linux os
Loyy Vong 100% yes!!!!!
Albert? Klein Nokia + Android please!!
Ken Rowe That depends on what you mean by successful. This OS is already successful. All it needs is time.
Justin Charles Reback Yes. Nokia's build quality + Android would make a killer phone.
Jeff Seaver Nokia can stay with Microsoft but will go out of business. Also no room left for new comer in Android. Good luck to Nokia
Vicente Reyes No, android would look weird on it.
Michael Waldron Nokkia needs to stick with Windows for the simple fact that Samsung and HTC rule the Android market, period.
George Germanos hell yeah
Gary Bollinger FOR SURE!!!!!!!!!!!!
Geraldy Reyes OMG, thank you Cameron Biggs, someone who actually understands wtf is going on.
Samantha Brown If Nokia changed to Android it would take over Samsung
William Gong Android, would buy one in an instant!
Joey Arnold Nokia and Android, I would buy most definitely!!!
Eduardo Ordaz Can't they support both? Kinda like what HTC is doing. And see whitch one does better for them.
Eduardo Ordaz If I were Nokia I would give Android a try.
Josh Pieters Yes. Android
Ilija Jovanovic yes of course :D
Cameron Biggs Absolutely not. An Android Nokia? Why? So, they also can get swallowed up by the market share of Samsung? Even if the few souls who would be quick to buy an Android Nokia phone, all got in line day one, it would pale in comparison to the millions of Samsung devices that the company will push. They are now a profitable company with a solid OS. A radical switch now would bury the company. All of their in-house software (maps, cameras, etc.) would also take a backseat to the native options in Android or other competitors. Ask HTC how the Android world is treating them. Or Motorola. These companies are struggling in their fight for Android relevance. Why would Nokia join that same fight? Their shot is best with WindowsPhone and has already proven to work for them.
David Brown I really like my Nokia and also really like the Windows 8 on it.The only problem is lack of apps and the apps aren't coming because they say not enough WP users so it's kind of a viscous circle.If more people used windows phomes then the mainstream apps will come.So far the platform has been really stable for me.
Shelby Durga Absolutely. Windows phones are quite confusing to maneuver
Samantha Brown I would love a Nokia Android phone because of the Camera :D
Eduardo Ordaz Yes its Android. Because people want to see a Nokia phone Running Android. I would get one myself if they would've offered one.
Sagar Deolalkar yup always. they had best phones ever in history but sadly they became history bcuz they refused to tieup wid android and continued with their own ecosytems and then microsoft.. they would have gone far if they have had adopted android instead of others... please nokia we are waiting for you first android flagship device...
Christian Sotelo No not really
Terry Tan Yes android
Kevin Joel I bought the 920 because of Windows Phone. If I wanted Android, I would get a Nexus 4 or GN2! So Nokia when would actually fail if it had Android on it. Think people, think!
Mihai Moga Yes. It would be better with Android.
Darwin Ayala Maybe but nokia has lost a lot of its rep for going windows
Ambrose Begay Maybe. But there are way too many players for android. Windows OS sorry to say is original in its own right. Nokia chose Microsoft OS because its unique and different. So no. Nokia better off with with windows OS. Plus changing at this point would confuse customers.
Dan Bittner I wish that Nokia would make android phones. They could sell more phones with having android and windows
Arvind Chahal Nokia with Android would be insane. They can hit the market with a much mor widely recognized and loved phone OS.
Jason Wilde No they need to stay and grow together with Microsoft
Edward Gonse I'd love to see a Nokia phone with Android on it. Especially one that will compete with the likes of the HTC One, GS4, and Note 3.
Noriel Dacer LOL these fanboys... IOS is out of the picture here (except those compare decently) but those who states their hatred with apple,Oh God help them.this is about android and WP8 OS..geez!
AhmaDona Al Awadhi Nokia + Android ... KILLER
Glenn Rubio Urrea That's a given. A Lumia 920 running Android? I'll buy two.
Geraldy Reyes Ah yes, a "me too" device by Nokia. GTFOH!! Ppl can't seem to remember HTC, the so called android leader in the beginning, almost completely crushed by Samsung, not to forget Motorola who can't seem to pull their heads outta Verizon's ass. Also Nokia's mapping services would go head to head with the default, making them become obsolete or surrender.
James Matthews No and HELL NO!!
Petar Simic best android
Jarmo Salmela Yes, with Sailfish OS. :)
Mark Belkowski they should also go with android.
Jason Vargas Yea. I love their designs but Windows SUCKS. Android please
Anthony Mendez Nexus 5 made by Nokia, I'd buy it in a heartbeat
Anthony Warburton nokia you would sell 90% more 920 phones if there was android on it. think about all that money.
Anthony Charles Boyd And Android Nokia Phones wont bee good because no company will put 100% into development
Eric Quach Windows Phone is fine. there just aren't aren't as much developers as iOS or Android. Its the same for BB10 too.
Anthony Charles Boyd No Nokia Works Great with only one Smartphone OS
Jesse Huertas I'd be very interested in a Nokia branded Android device. Oh well
Peter Blanco Absolutely. Why not do both like HTC?
Abraham Detrinidad Nokia+Nexus=Nexus 5
Charlie Ebner Oh god, here we go with Android fan boys.
Joydip Pal nokia can ruin a company so called name samsung by taking the android
Giovanni Vito Capone Android.. absolutely
Hommero Williams android is way better than windows they need to stick with android on al phones and apple phones suck they are not getting anywhere with same old apple ios. the reason why nokia is being held back because windows phone are not very much popular in the market
John McCullough They could run both, they don't have to choose.
Aaron Couts I would love to see a nokia android phone last nokia phone I had was the 3595 lol
Marcus Samual Winchester It's a little late for them to make another radical jump to another OS. Android is an option but they could get lost in the numerable competition, iOS is purely Apple, BBOS is purely BB( maybe soon Lenovo), they sunk the antiquated Symbian and the other small players like Ubuntu, Sailfish and WebOS are just out of the equation for them by default. Unless they could really stand out in the Android ecosystem, they are pretty much stuck with Windows Phone which is going fairly well for them, not Samsung/Apple "well" but still well.
Naier Akram it will be an amazing phone, samsung must do their best, exactly in phone materials, nokia is amazing in phone materials, but im not going to use that windows phone shitty os ..
Cary Mompoint Jr I think that Nokia would Def have a bigger impact on the market if they also made Android phones. If they kept it as close to stock as possible, I would definitely get one.
Eric Magana If the 920 had android it wouldn't have gotten best benchmarks scores lmao
Alex Rtn A phone with Lumia Design and Android Os... and samsung will disappear :))
Clay Arrighi I have the 920 and switched to it from an HTC Thunderbolt running the latest version of Android and I'm loving it. Once to get used to the differences in the OS it's pretty fantastic! Maybe I'm just easy to please but it's simple, nice to look at, and very responsive. It would be neat to see both OS's offered on the device.
Tom Nguyen The Nokia 920 is a beautiful phone IMO.. but the WP operating system was a turnoff for me.. if it was an android OS I would've bought that phone in a heartbeat.
Young Chris Android waaay better i think they would seelll waaaaay more with an android operating system.
Robert Oortwijn Let them go back to Android. Microsoft is forcing them back and use Nokia as a pupet to experiment WP8.
Ivan Ilchev Nokia + Android would be a kick-ass combination.
Luis Robles Figueroa Yes look is being held back but then again it is well establish as far as the OS. Thateans that they have to start all over win or fail. They just have to thinks twice. So I notice that I contract addicted myself. Lol... just notice.
Jason Bleich Nokia pretty much has the stronghold on the WP market with their phones, which is a solid platform. Why would they downgrade to an over saturated android market?
Larry Ayonn I think people trust their hardware enough to want an Android version of the Lumia phones. There might be some, I'm not sure, but I would consider it, since the phones look fairly decent.
Gabriel Silvestre Yes many people prefer android
Johnattan Haddock Medina Yes please and Android phone
Danny Medina yes if it had android it would be a little better
Dan Daniel ABSOLUTELY love the phones not so much Windows
Jacob Grumbles Yes definitely . I would love to have a nokia running android.
Hansel Starley That and underwhelming phones.
Teejay Crooks Yes if it runs android
Gary Bowling They need to make down to earth Android phones that run Vanilla.
Paul Hooker in the present situation WP has given them back their old flair they had in the days of the 3310. and that flair was their ability to stand out. I hope they keep it this time
Roger Schubert DeOliveira they were really successful at making indestructible old people phones....go back to that
TuCan Dan Hmm...possibly! Very possible
Bobby Delaney Yes. The 920 with android would have been a great phone.




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