Why Nokia Should Switch To Google's Android OS Now

Last Updated Oct 7, 2010 4:34 PM EDT

Sometimes it takes a confluence of events to illuminate the obvious. Yesterday brought two pieces of news: Android is now number one among new smartphone buyers and the head of Nokia's (NOK) mobile OS, Meego, is quitting. If the beleaguered Finnish phone giant wants to have any chance of getting into the smartphone game within the year, Nokia should switch to Google's (GOOG) Android OS right now.

Nielsen released new data this morning showing that Android is now the number one choice of new smartphone buyers, with 32% of the consumers preferring Android. RIM (RIMM) has 25% of the market and Apple has 25%. This is a major reversal from January, 2010, when Apple (APPL) was preferred by 34% of consumers and only 14% chose Android.

Ari Jaaksi, the VP in charge of Nokia's MeeGo unit, confirmed his resignation yesterday morning. MeeGo was to be the foundation of Nokia's new smartphone's and the first MeeGo device was scheduled for release before the end of 2010. The company insists that they are still on track for that launch, but as Engadget points out, reviewers who got their hands on the OS found Meego far from perfect.

Nokia's new CEO, Stephen Elop, comes from Microsoft (MSFT). This history might suggest he would replace Meego with Windows Phone 7, the new mobile OS from Microsoft set to debut next month. But TechCrunch is reporting that Elop has been talking with Google CEO Eric Schmidt about the possibility of using Android while the MeeGo team recovers from the staff shakeup and puts the finishing touches on its product.

Microsoft has had little success with smartphones in the post iPhone era. CEO Steve Ballmer even had his yearly bonus cut because Microsoft's social networking phone, the Kin, was such a failure. No is questioning that Nokia has created some impressive hardware. A temporary switch to Android would give it the momentum of partnering with the fastest growing OS while they get their house in order.

Perhaps Elop can even call in a favor with some old pals in Redmond to avoid the lawsuits that have hounded Android partners like HTC and Motorola (MOT).

  • Ben Popper

    Ben Popper writes at the intersection of culture and technology. His work has been published in the NY Times, Washington Post, Fast Company, Rolling Stone, The Atlantic and many others. He lives at www.benpopper.com.