Nokia CEO Stephen Elop. Photo: Ariel Zambelich/Wired
Nokia’s CEO Stephen Elop says he isn’t worried about Microsoft making its own Windows Phone 8 hardware. In fact, Elop says that Nokia encourages all other companies, including its competitors, to make Windows Phone devices, and that a Microsoft-made WP8 Surface smartphone would be “a stimulant to the ecosystem.”
Though Microsoft has yet to announce plans to make any phone hardware, there are rumors that Redmond will get into the smartphone hardware market. In an investor call on Thursday, Elop appeared to welcome the potential of a Surface smartphone, which would share a brand name with Microsoft’s Surface tablet. The Nokia CEO made his statement in response to questions about whether a Surface phone would be seen as a competitor.
“We’re encouraging of HTC and Samsung and Microsoft or whomever to have devices in the market and to be making whatever investments that helps spur the ecosystem on,” Elop responded.
Nokia is Microsoft’s most committed partner when it comes to Windows Phone. The company is hanging its smartphone business on the fledgling platform with its Lumia line, which includes the upcoming Windows Phone 8 Lumia 920 and and 820, set to launch in November. But if Microsoft were to come out with its own WP8 hardware, Elop says that Nokia would be ready with “unpolished gems” from the company R&D lab. He assured investors that Nokia is working on devices that will be different (and presumably better) no matter the Windows Phone competition.
Elop said earlier this month that he had no indication that Microsoft plans to make its own hardware. His most recent remarks, however, indicate that Nokia is at least keeping Microsoft’s potential phone in mind. Nonetheless, the Nokia CEO remains firm in his belief that the Lumia Windows Phone handsets will stand apart from other offerings. “We’re very proud of the unique differentiation that we are bringing to the Windows Phone platform,” he said. “It’s not something that’s easily replicated or reinvented or anything like that.”