Nokia has announced sweeping and profound changes in its business structure and strategy. Accepting that the Symbian operating system cannot meet the needs of today’s smartphone consumer, Nokia has opted to throw in its lot with Microsoft and use the Windows Phone 7 operating system in future Nokia smartphones. In addition, the Nokia devices unit has been split into two business units that will address smartphones and low cost phones separately.

The sweeping changes made at Nokia will begin immediately and likely take two years to be completely digested as the two technology giants try to merge their mobile service ecosystems and product development roadmaps. ABI Research VP Kevin Burden states, “With Nokia taking over the Windows Phone 7 universe, the other OEMs who have initially supported Window Phone 7 may rethink their commitment, and eventually end support of Windows Phone 7 the way they did with Symbian, due to Nokia’s dominance and influence over the platform.”

The speed at which such a major decision was made speaks to the desperate situation Nokia CEO Stephen Elop perceived in Nokia’s device strategy. Senior Analyst Michael Morgan states, “Elop’s decision to go with his old employer makes sense up front; however, the decision to tie an incomplete operating system with an ailing handset design company is a very risky proposition.” Microsoft and Nokia need a strong partner to push their mobile efforts forward. While this alliance may not be optimal for either party, when fighting for survival it is always nice to have a partner.

• How will Nokia shift its feature phone users to smartphone users?

• What happens to all the developers invested in Qt and Symbian?

• What should Symbian’s role be during this transition?