It’s hard to believe that it’s little more than eight months since I was in London with Nokia CEO Stephen Elop and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer when they announced a broad strategic partnership that combined the collective strengths of both companies to form a new global mobile ecosystem.

At that time, we indicated that success in the rapidly growing and evolving smartphone market required speed, and we said we’d be “swift.”

And swift we’ve been.

Ben Rudolph’s blog post earlier today demonstrates that craftsmanship and styling didn’t come at the expense of speed. Ben’s post focuses on the beauty and benefits of the new Nokia phones; I’m focusing on the significance of this strategic partnership to smartphone users worldwide.

Thanks to the partnership that’s been forged since those cold February days (as well as the very successful partnership with Qualcomm ), Nokia today is bringing stylish and highly functional Windows Phones to the world, providing critical mass to the Windows Phone platform.

In February, we said the smartphone market was shifting from a race between mobile devices to a contest between mobile ecosystems. That is even more true today. We said ecosystems thrive when they reach scale, bringing value and opportunity to everyone who participates. True again.

In a very short period of time, Nokia and Microsoft have earned incredible support from operators and retailers in the six European markets where Nokia’s new phones are first becoming available, and in the other five regions (Hong Kong, India, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan) where they’ll go on sale before year’s end. That ecosystem will expand in early 2012 to the U.S. and China as well.

We’re achieving scale and gaining ecosystem momentum by working together with mobile operators, developers and content providers to demonstrate that our “people first” approach to the smartphone experience is unique and compelling. When you get an opportunity to see or play with these new Nokia phones, you’ll see how this “people first” approach comes to life.

At the announcement in February, Stephen Elop said our strategic partnership marked the beginning of a three-horse race among mobile ecosystems. Well, the Nokia-Microsoft horse is out of the gate, and hitting its stride.

Game on.

Posted by Frank X. Shaw
Corporate Vice President, Corporate Communications, Microsoft