Ina Fried

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Exclusive: Nokia’s Elop on Why Symbian Still Stands a Chance Against Android on Low-End Smartphones

Nokia has endured a drubbing in the last couple of days after warning that the company’s quarter is going to be worse than expected.

However, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop said the fact that Android is taking a bite out of Symbian in some markets today doesn’t necessarily mean that it will eat Nokia’s lunch in all segments.

“Just because there is a version of an operating system at a price point, doesn’t mean that it is a great experience,” Elop said in a brief interview after his on-stage appearance at D9 on Wednesday. Elop insisted that at the low end of the smartphone market, Symbian performs better than a bare-bones Android phone.

Nokia is counting on Symbian-based smartphones–especially at the middle and low end of the smartphone market–to tide the company over until its full lineup of Windows Phones are ready. The first model isn’t expected until the end of this year, while a broader lineup won’t be in place until 2012.

Here is an edited transcript of our chat:

AllThingsD: Does the fact that it is this hard this early in the transition–it would seem like that spells even harder months ahead?

Elop: It’s clearly difficult, but part of the difficulty–a substantial part of the difficulty–is also short-term mismanagement. I mentioned China. Clearly there were some things happening in China as it relates to the channel which hurt us badly.

Those are things we can fix. That will help. As well, we are right on the eve–actually we are just shipping our first dual-SIM products into India. We have a new set of Symbian products coming, new versions of operating systems.

We have new momentum activities still ahead.

Everything I hear tells me that Android is going to hit lower and lower price points.

Elop: We hit lower and lower price points and we have devices that range down very deep.

But if Symbian is having trouble competing against Android at the high end and now Android is at the low end, what is going to make Symbian better?

Elop: Just because there is a version of an operating system at a price point doesn’t mean that it is a great experience.

So you think Android is more competitive at the high end than at the low end?

Elop: Yes. Yes, absolutely.

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