Elop: Nokia will disrupt existing Android-dominated ecosystem

SAN DIEGO--After years of battling over intellectual property and patents, Nokia (NYSE:NOK) and Qualcomm have clearly buried the hatchet.  The former enemies are now friends as evidenced at today's Qualcomm Uplinq 2011 keynote address in which Nokia President and CEO Stephen Elop took the stage to outline his company's bold plan to work in conjunction with Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) to deliver a powerful portfolio of devices using Windows Phone 7.

Elop talked at length about the mobile industry's shift from a battle over devices to a battle over ecosystems, stacking Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS developer platform against Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android platform with the Nokia/Microsoft partnership as the potential emerging third player.  

"There is absolutely an opportunity for Nokia to disrupt the ecosystem ... if we can establish a platform that is appealing to consumers, developers and can make money," said Elop.

Elop admitted that before deciding to align itself with Microsoft (which the company announced last February), Nokia had looked closely at Android. "We believed that [if we aligned with Android] we would join a winning ecosystem on a rising trajectory," he said. "And we saw some opportunities to differentiate ourselves to some extent. But our final assessment was that we couldn't differentiate enough."

Elop also said that Nokia believed that by selecting Android it would be "giving in."--meaning that it would become harder to differentiate itself from all the other handset makers that had jumped on the Android bandwagon. "At Nokia there is a strong attitude that you don't give in, you fight harder," Elop added.

Elop admits, however, that Microsoft and Nokia have a lot of work ahead to create a successful mobile ecosystem on par with Google and Apple. One area where he believes the company's can stand apart is in its relationships with operators. Specifically, Elop touted Nokia's 132 operator billing relationships, which means that developers can sell and monetize their apps using operator direct billing. He said developers can triple their sales by using direct operator billing.

He also reiterated previous comments about the tablet market, saying that Nokia will make a tablet when the company has something that will differentiate it from the rest of the pack. "If we can't differentiate from the pack of tablet providers, we won't be successful."  

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