Nokia, Microsoft join forces

Mobile phone manufacturer Nokia, which has been steadily losing its market share, finally did what many analysts suspected it would: abandoned its MeeGo operating system in favor of Microsoft’s nascent Windows Phone 7 operating system. The move offers the Finnish manufacturer a new way to enter the U.S. market. The partnership between these two companies also signals a move to create a mobile ecosystem that will help both companies’ struggling fortunes in the mobile space.

The near-term plan is for Nokia and Microsoft to integrate their systems. Nokia devices will now incorporate Microsoft’s Bing as its search engine, and Microsoft’s Bing and AdCenter will integrate Nokia’s maps. Both companies’ mobile marketplaces, Nokia’s Ovi Store and Microsoft’s Windows Phone Marketplace, will also unite. Although both companies are running far behind the leaders in the field, the hope is that this partnership will encourage more developers to build apps that run across both platforms. In particular, Nokia’s devices have a global reach, and its many worldwide carrier billing agreements power mobile commerce in countries without significant credit card infrastructure.

Nokia will not entirely dump its MeeGo operating system, however; the OS is now an open-source project. Nokia will also transition its installed base of 200 million Symbian devices.