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Nokia Q&A reveals more MeeGo details and tablet plans -- says Android 'risk of commodification was very high'

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The Steve show just ended with both Elop and Ballmer hosting a very informative media Q&A following the reveal of Nokia's plan to use Windows Phone 7 as its "primary smartphone platform." Here are the highlights:

  • No specific announcement for when we'll see the first Nokia Windows Phone. Ballmer mentioned that the engineering teams have spent a lot of time together already.
  • Elop also confirmed that Nokia is a Finnish company and always will be -- they will not be moving to Silicon Valley or anywhere else.
  • Ballmer said that the partnership is "not exclusive" but some things that Microsoft is doing with Nokia are "unique" allowing Nokia to differentiate itself in the market. Elop added that it's important for the Windows Phone 7 ecosystem to thrive, which means that multiple vendors must succeed.
  • Elop didn't believe that Nokia could create a new ecosystem around MeeGo fast enough.
  • Nokia will "substantially reduce" R&D expenditures while increasing R&D productivity moving forward.
  • Nokia did talk with Google about adopting Android but decided that it "would have difficulty differentiating within that ecosystem" and the "commoditization risk was very high -- prices, profits, everything being pushed down, value being moved out to Google which was concerning to us." Microsoft presented the best option for Nokia to resume the fight in the high end smartphone segment.
  • Elop clarified that MeeGo will ship this year but "not as part of another broad smarpthone platform strategy, but as an opportunity to learn." Something that sounds very similar to position Nokia took with its so-called "experimental" Maemo-based N900 last year. After the first (and apparently, only) MeeGo device ships this year, the MeeGo team will then "change their focus into an exploration of future platforms, future devices, future user experiences." Trying to determine the "next disruption" in smartphones.
  • Responding to "hope for a broad MeeGo-based ecosystem," Elop said that Nokia simply wasn't moving fast enough to effectively win and compete against Apple and Google. Windows Phone makes it a "three-horse race," something that Elop says is pleasing to the carriers he's been speaking with.
  • Nokia has different options for its tablet strategy including using something from Microsoft or something that Nokia has developed internally.

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