Nokia has said that it's considering joining Google's new Open Handset Alliance and its rival Android mobile software platform.

"It's not ruled out at all. If we would see this as beneficial we would think about taking part in it," Kari Tuutti, spokesman for Nokia's multimedia unit, told Reuters. "We should never close any doors."

Isn't Android a rival?

Google launched the Open Handset Alliance on Monday, aiming to speed up internet connectivity on mobile phones. The alliance includes the likes of HTC, LG, Motorola and Samsung.

The new Android operating system will ultimately be a rival to the Symbian OS, which is used in three quarters of the world's smartphones and is the basis of Nokia's S60 UI. So why is Nokia keeping its options open? S60 already offers an open platform that's friendly to 3rd party applications and Nokia was quick to point this out when Apple first launched the 'closed' platform iPhone.

In one sense, Nokia doesn't want to distance itself from Android should Google's proposed platform prove to be a success. Nokia has a 48 per cent stake in Symbian and the Symbian/S60 OS currently powers about three quarters of the world's phones.

Google as an ally

Investing in the Android platform, if it becomes popular, will effectively safeguard Nokia's dominance of the mobile phone market. People typically change their handset every 12 months, so if public demand becomes high for android-powered handsets in 2008, Nokia could jump on board.

By viewing Google as a potential ally, rather than an enemy, Nokia could bring its enormous phone design experience to bear and ultimately produce versions of its phones with Android features. These future phones could then compete with the HTC, Samsung and Motorola handsets that will appear in 2008.