Google and Microsoft offer Nokia hundreds of millions to abandon MeeGo, Symbian

When Nokia CEO Stephen Elop announces a major change in Nokia strategy tomorrow, cash may be an important factor: Microsoft and Google are both said to be offering Nokia hundreds of millions of dollars to switch to either Windows Phone 7 or Android from Nokia's current phone operating systems.

There's plenty of evidence that when Elop talks to investors in London tomorrow, he's going to make a dramatic change in Nokia's strategy. In a so-called "burning platform" memo he made clear that Nokia is in serious trouble, and needs to take a drastic turn in direction if the company is to succeed.

In the memo, he faulted the company's MeeGo and Symbian platforms, leading many people to believe that he's going to replace them with either Windows Phone 7 or Android.

There's plenty at stake here, not just for Nokia, but for Microsoft and Google as well. Nokia, according to the New York Times, is still the world's leading smartphone maker, even though its market share has plummeted more than ten points in a single year, down to 28 percent. If Nokia chooses Android, it will clearly cement Google's smartphone leadership.

For Microsoft, the stakes are even higher. If Nokia choose Windows Phone 7, it could give that struggling phone operating system a jump start. If Nokia were to choose Android, it could be the death knell for Windows Phone 7.

Underscoring the importance of the decision for Microsoft and Google is that both companies are apparently offering Nokia hundreds of millions of dollars to choose their operating system. The New York Times reports:

To get Nokia to switch, Google and Microsoft are offering hundreds of millions of dollars worth of engineering assistance and marketing support, according to a person who has done consulting for the company and was told of the talks.

Clearly, Nokia isn't simply going to choose the highest bidder. But there's no doubt that the amount of money, and forms that money will take, will certainly be an important factor in the decision. The Times considers Android to be the front-runner, but I'd bet on the underdog, Microsoft. Tune in tomorrow to see who wins.

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