Mobile maker Nokia's Symbian operating system is on the ropes, its lead being stripped away blow by Android blow, but if its new boss throws in the software towel now, the relief will be brief and the scars permanent.
Stephen Elop, appointed Nokia's chief executive three months ago, is due to present his plans to arrest the market leader's decline early next year, and there are siren voices that would have him turn his back on mobile software and focus on handsets.
The runaway success of rival Apple's iPhone and its online App Store took Nokia by surprise, and while the Finnish firm still makes eight phones for every iPhone sold, for many quarters Apple has generated a bigger profit from its phone business than Nokia.
Following Apple's footsteps, Google rolled out its open-source Android operating system, which has become the standard for smaller phone makers. On current trends it will surpass Nokia's old workhorse Symbian in 2011 as the world's most used mobile OS.
"The software battles have been fought and won by Google and Apple. Nokia can either join the winning camp, or wither in a status quo of software wars already lost," said Alexander Peterc, analyst at Exane BNP Paribas.
Elop's personal history -- a former Microsoft executive -- gave vigour to rumours that Nokia would decide to use Google or Microsoft software in its smartphones.
This week in San Francisco, Android chief Andrew Rubin fuelled speculation further by ducking the question on possible talks with Nokia, while saying its new management was open to new ideas.
Nokia has undoubtedly had a rough time of it this year. Its shares have have fallen 15 percent, while the Stoxx Europe 600 Technology index has gained 13 percent.
It's entirely possible that by embracing Android its shares could avoid the punches for a while and rise a little; the company's costs would fall and it would enjoy the effects of moving with the newcomer's momentum instead of fighting to preserve a shrinking corner.
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