Nokia CEO Stephen Elop has confirmed that the company was in discussion with Google over the possibility of using Android on its smartphones, but concerns over there being sufficient scope to build a unique identity in the Android device ecosystem instead led them to Microsoft's door. Elop suggested that there were "too many players" in Android, and that Nokia's concern was that it "couldn't differentiate products."
Although the nature of the Microsoft deal has not been confirmed, Nokia does seem to have negotiated more flexibility in how they can implement hardware and services while still running Windows Phone 7. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer confirmed that "Nokia will do unique things on top of Windows Phone 7â€³ implying the existing stringent limitations Windows Phone OEMs must work within may have been relaxed somewhat.
"We had three options," explained Elop in a questions and answers session at the London sitting alongside Steve Ballmer.
"One was to look at internal operating systems, the second was to look at Android, and the third Microsoft."
Expanding on the topic, Elop added:
"We explored the Google ecosystem. There are some attractive elements to the system, however we felt that we would have difficulty standing out of the crowd."
So why did Nokia choose Microsoft? The answer, says Elop, is simple:
"The Microsoft option will allow us to lead and fight the ecosystem."
In what is surely the final nail in the coffin for any agreement happening with Google in the future, Elop said in a briefing later today:
"It felt like giving up and not fighting back" if the company was to go with the Google OS.
There is no confirmed plans to when we will see a Windows Phone 7 smartphone from the two, although Elop told us that we shouldn't have long to wait as they are expecting a quick rollout of the new hardware to suit a range of devices.
"Part of the unique relationship here is that we will help Microsoft go down scale," said Elop confirming that Microsoft will loosen its strict hardware guidelines.
Ballmer added that they are already working on making that happen since November.
What does the Android Community think on this matter?