A Nokia executive said this week that the ailing smartphone giant would stop selling feature phones and Symbian-based smartphones in North America so that it can focus instead on pushing Windows Phone. This development isn't terribly startling because none of Nokia's phones are selling well in North America anyway. But it does mean that customers in this continent will never be able to purchase the recently announced Meego-based N9.
"When we launch Windows Phones, we will essentially be out of the Symbian business, the S40 business, [and so on]," Nokia's North America Sales Lead Chris Weber said this week. (Weber is a former Microsoft executive.) "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 [elsewhere in the world]."
Nokia will continue selling feature phones and Symbian-based smartphones in parts of the world where such devices still command the attention of consumers.
According to Weber, Nokia is changing its failed strategy in North America and will now work closely with wireless carriers to ensure that its handsets are put in front of consumers; previously, Nokia tried selling its devices directly to customers in this area. The company plans several unique Windows Phone handsets for the various North American markets, all of which are being designed in San Diego, not in Nokia's Eastern European headquarters.
Weber confirmed that the well-regarded N9 would not be sold in the United States. However, the company's first Windows Phone-based handset, code-named Sea Ray, appears to be based on the N9 and should be available sometime this fall, presumably in North America as well as overseas.
In related news, Motorola is now open to adopting Windows Phone, after dissing the platform a year earlier. The impetus seems to be Motorola's declining share of the smartphone market, which comes after the firm adopted Google's Android as its platform of choice. But now CEO Sanjay Jha says he'd consider Windows Phone ... but only if Microsoft gave Motorola the same kind of partnership deal it afforded Nokia.
That's unlikely to happen, as Microsoft and Nokia are essentially collaborating on Windows Phone going forward. But it's perhaps not surprising that manufacturers of Android-based devices aren't seeing much of a return, given the commodity nature of the products and the sheer number of Android hardware makers, any one of which is able and willing to undercut the others. That platform might currently dominate the smartphone landscape, but one gets the impression that it's teetering under its own weight and because of infighting.