Nokia has announced it will stop selling phones running on its Symbian operating system in the U.S.  and Canada in favor of Microsoft's Windows Phone 7,  in a move many believe may be the Finnish company's last chance to stay relevant in the North American mobile phone market.

The news broke during an interview with the technology Web site All Things D, Chris Weber, the president of Nokia's US subsidiary, said the company would no longer sell phones running on Nokia's longtime operating system of choice to make way for new devices produced through the new Nokia and Microsoft partnership.

"When we launch Windows Phones we will essentially be out of the Symbian business, the S40 business," Weber told the Web site. "It will be Windows Phone and the accessories around that. The reality is if we are not successful with Windows Phone, it doesn't matter what we do."

Although Nokia's low-end devices sell well in developing markets it has struggled to make its mark in the U.S., where its Symbian handsets compete with Google's immensely popular Android software.  In May, Nokia released a statement warning investors that second-quarter sales for its devices and services would be "substantially" lower than their previous estimate of approximately $8.8 billion to $9.5 billion.

Android overtook Symbian as the most popular smartphone operating system during the fourth quarter of 2010, according to statistics from the technology researcher Canalys.

On an interesting note, the decision to remove Symbian products from the U.S. contradicts a statement made by Nokia CEO Stephen Elop in May. During an interview with Anna Shipley of Nokia Conversations, China Edition, he said the company would stick with Symbian until at least 2016.