Vodafone executive: Nokia-Microsoft deal a good thing

The smartphone battle will be between Apple, Android, RIM and Nokia-Microsoft, according to a Vodafone exec.

Nokia and Microsoft joining forces to better compete with Apple and Google's Android OS will be good for the smartphone market, Jan Geldmacher, managing director, enterprise business at Vodafone Germany, said in an interview at the Cebit trade show in Hanover.

For Nokia's upcoming Windows Phone-based smartphones to succeed, Microsoft and the Finnish phone maker need backing from mobile operators, and Vodafone in Germany seems to be on their side, for now.

"We are very much looking forward to the new products that will come from the cooperation between Microsoft and Nokia," Geldmacher said.

However, unlike Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, Geldmacher doesn't view the battle for smartphone OS supremacy as a three-horse race. He sees the situation as a fight between Apple, Google's Android and its backers, Microsoft and Nokia, and Research In Motion, as well.

Elop has repeatedly stated that the union between his company and Microsoft has created "a three-horse race", essentially discounting RIM's BlackBerry smartphones.

Today, Apple dominates the smartphone market, with Android increasing its market share quickly. But RIM in the enterprise field is important as well, according to Geldmacher.

"We think that a fourth operating system, with Nokia and Microsoft will be a positive thing for the market overall," he said.

Geldmacher also answered questions about the operator's LTE (Long Term Evolution) plans.

At the behest of German authorities, Vodafone and other local mobile operators have taken a different tack to rolling out networks based on the network technology. The rollout has started in rural areas, in an effort expand broadband availability. Most other operators are starting in big cities.

The plan is to close remaining white spots, where broadband isn't available, by the end of the year, said Geldmacher. The operator will then build out its LTE infrastructure in the cites, he said, adding that users can expect download speeds between 10M bps (bits per second) and 50M bps.

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