Nokia to eat its words?

You know how just when you know something would be perfect, it's never available? Like a Mac for the price of a low-cost PC. Or an ice cream as healthy as lettuce.

Well there's a similar problem with Nokia phones. The Finnish phone giant makes some of the loveliest phone hardware in the world. Its last phone, the N8, was gorgeous, with a high-quality metal shell, great screen, and magnificent camera.

But Nokia's smartphone software is horrible. And there's been much speculation that, while it struggles to update its software for the iPhone age, Nokia should just make Android or Windows Phone 7 phones. Great software + great hardware = win.

Until recently, Nokia has been adamant this wouldn't happen. But now it seems they might be reconsidering. Its new-ish CEO, Stephen Elop, dropped a meteor-sized hint last week that the company was considering expanding into making phones for other OSs. 'We must build, catalyse or join a competitive ecosystem,' he told investors. 'Ecosystem' is geek-speak for the combination of OS, platform and app store that makes up a modern software setup. By including the word 'join' Elop sent a pretty clear signal that Android and Windows Phone 7 are at least under consideration.

Now Nokia has said it'll make a 'strategic announcement' on February 11. And tech types are jumping up and down about the possibility that Nokia will use the event to announce it's going software-agnostic.

Which would they go for? Android is easier and cheaper to use, as there's no license fees and very few restrictions on what you can do to the software. But the smart money is Windows Phone 7. Its professional image chimes better with Nokia's, and Stephen Elop joined Nokia from Microsoft, so he'd know who to call to get the license at a decent price.

Of course, it could all be nonsense. Nokia came of age in a world where phone manufacturers made software as well as hardware, and they won't want to exit the software game without a fight (remember Snake? Nokia made good software once). But we guess we'll find out on February 11.

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