Nokia CEO Stephen Elop has previously said he has "no indications" that Microsoft might be planning to launch its own Surface phone, but in an investor call today he appeared to welcome it. "It's certainly a stimulant to the ecosystem," says Elop, in response to questions on whether a potential Surface phone would be welcomed or seen as a competitor. "We're encouraging of HTC and Samsung and Microsoft or whomever to have devices in the market and to be making whatever investments that helps spur the ecosystem on," says Elop.

Nokia could turn into a direct competitor with its biggest ally

Although Nokia has bet the company on Windows Phone, Elop acknowledges that anyone else in the Windows Phone ecosystem is some form of competitor, whether that's Microsoft or not. Rumors of a potential Surface phone have made the rounds recently, with some suggestions that Microsoft may be planning to introduce its own device imminently. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has admitted that a fundamental shift is underway at Microsoft. That shift appears to be towards a focus on devices and services that are built for "specific purposes."

It's clear that Elop isn't concerned with the potential disruption to the Windows Phone ecosystem from a Microsoft-built device. "We're very proud of the unique differentiation that we are bringing to the Windows Phone platform," he adds. "It's not something that's easily replicated or reinvented or anything like that." If Microsoft is preparing to launch its own Surface phone then Nokia is ready. Elop says "unpolished gems" from the company's Research and Development labs will be used "to differentiate regardless of who our competition might be."