David Prosser: Another distracting sideshow at Nokia

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The Independent Online

Outlook It just might be worth investing in a Nokia N9, the new smartphone launched yesterday by the Finnish mobile phone company – but not because it is a credible rival to Apple's iPhone, which is what its engineers had originally hoped. No, the allure of the N9 is its rarity value – it is both the first phone launched with Nokia's new operating system, MeeGo, and the last, since new boss Stephen Elop has cancelled the roll-out of this technology in favour of an alliance with Microsoft.

When might we see the fruits of that alliance? Well, Mr Elop still doesn't seem entirely clear, though he did say yesterday that he had "increased confidence" that Nokia would launch its first Windows phones later this year, with a view to getting devices on to the market in 2012.

In the meantime, as well as trying to flog the collectors' item the N9 may one day become, Nokia plans to introduce a further 10 phones using its existing Symbian operating system, or at least an updated version of it.

Given that he has staked Nokia's future on Windows, would it not have been better for Mr Elop to concentrate the company's fire-power on getting these new smartphones to market rather more quickly? While its developers beaver away, Nokia is about to be overtaken in the smartphone market by Samsung, leaving it trailing in third place.

For a man who invited ridicule earlier this year with a warning to all staff that they were "standing on a burning platform" at Nokia, Mr Elop seems remarkably unhurried in his efforts to flee the flames.