Nokia Already Looking Ahead To Windows Phone ‘Apollo’ In 2012

The promises of collaboration between Nokia (NYSE: NOK) and Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) on mobile devices were fulfilled only in their most basic form yesterday with the launch of the Lumia devices. The deeper integration that the companies promised in February now sounds like it will appear around middle of next year, alongside a Windows Phone release code-named Apollo.

Engadget’s interview with Nokia’s Michael Halbherr, executive vice president for location and commerce, didn’t result in many specific details. But Halbherr said that Apollo is scheduled for the middle of next year and said that Nokia has been trying to get Microsoft to support NFC (near-field communications) technology as well as an improved Nokia Maps application.

The next version of Windows Phone will be code-named Tango, and it sounds like that release is going to be a pretty incremental advance on Mango, the most current version. Apollo would then be a step beyond; Engadget’s interview insinuated that Apollo might actually be when Microsoft folds Windows 8 into the mobile device category, but that’s far from certain.

In any event, Nokia promised that its partnership with Microsoft would free it from becoming just another phone maker beholden to an operating system vendor. We didn’t see much evidence of that on Wednesday, but it’s still early.