Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer used his Congress today to position Windows Phone 7 as “the most operator-friendly platform available,” being joined on stage by Stephen Elop, CEO of Nokia, to trumpet the benefits of the alliance to these partners.
According to Ballmer, Microsoft is “working to ensure that the mobile operators can add value over and above connectivity, distribution and customer service. Windows Phone will continue to be the best place for mobile operators to add value.”
Ballmer’s comments follow recent reports that a number of tier-one operators have expressed concern about the increasing strength of Apple and Google in the mobile ecosystem, particularly with regard to delivering services to high-value smartphone customers. Microsoft is now positioning itself as the best possible alternative to this, aided by the support of the global number one handset manufacturer – with numbers two and three also having WP7 devices available.
Nokia’s Elop underlined this sentiment, stating that the alliance is “good news for operators because we are in the situation where we can actually create that third ecosystem, and create and entirely different situation than was appearing before. This also allows operators to offer more choice to the ultimate consumers, which is important.”
The Nokia CEO also said that: “Nokia has had a long-standing relationship with operators all over the world. We understand what it means to be the most friendly partner for operators.”
While the relationship between Microsoft and Nokia understandably dominated much of the event, Ballmer also made reference to other partners in the Windows Phone ecosystem. “Today we are working hard and we work successfully with OEM partners like Samsung, LG, Dell, HTC – who we have worked with now for about 14 years – and many others to deliver incredible experiences,” he said.
A passing reference was also made to the fragmentation which is becoming apparent in the Android ecosystem: “the Windows Phone platform, like any other platform, will only thrive with scale and variety. And we are going to work with our partners to bring their best innovations into our platform, while also working to ensure that their innovation does not lead to the kind of fragmentation for developers that other platforms in the phone arena are currently experiencing,” Ballmer said.
With devices from Nokia on the horizon, and a “significant” update to the platform scheduled for later this year, Ballmer also talked-up the potential for third-party apps developers. “Additional volumes mean additional returns” for these partners, he noted. Following the launch of the platform late in 2010, there are now 8,000 apps available for consumers.