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Summary:

Nokia, should make a perfect study for Harvard Business School, for it is a perfect example of a company that cannot make up its mind. First it develops its own browser, loads it up on its phones. Then it does a deal to bundle Opera in […]

Nokia, should make a perfect study for Harvard Business School, for it is a perfect example of a company that cannot make up its mind. First it develops its own browser, loads it up on its phones. Then it does a deal to bundle Opera in its phones. And now there is news that company is turning to open source community to come-up with a new browser to be included in future releases of the Series 60 software.

This yet another new browser, uses two components used by Apple’s Safari Web browser and are based on KHTML and KJS. Folks over at The Apple Blog think out loud and ask, ‘let’s be crazy for a second and imagine Dashboard widgets on a Nokia phone?’

Sure, except Nokia is bound to change its mind again. Now I am wondering out loud: does anyone give a damn about a browser on a phone? And why does Nokia need to reinvent the wheel? Also why did they back Minimo, the mobile Mozilla then?

  1. heh heh :) There are great benefits associated with leveraging a reusable open-source browser framework.

    Until webkit recently was released as a full-blown open-source project, Gecko, from the Mozilla dudes, was the only other open-source alternative with any kind of maturity. I would wager there were significant engineering challenges in porting Gecko to a handheld platform. So Nokia was indeed stuck probing waters elsewhere. Now that
    WebKit is fully out in the open in a nicely structured open-source project
    , Nokia had another alternative opened to them, and it would appear they seized it.

    As I mentioned in our article you linked to, porting WebKit to Symbian OS, which all other Symbian devices would hopefully be able to leverage, should help make Symbian a far stronger alternative to the Windows CE/IE/PocketPC guys. Finally there’d be a major browser framework, free of licensing fees, that’s getting worldwide developer support, inside the hood of the other major Handheld platform.

    This should hopefully limit each phone vendor coming-up with their own clumsy browser. All vendors would now have a vested interest in continually enhancing a common framework.

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  2. [...] OS calls, are small challenges for Nokia engineers to overcome! update: Om Malik weighs-in, baffled. Om is a heavy Nokia user and has a long-standing rela [...]

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  3. David Richardson Monday, June 13, 2005

    does anyone give a damn about a browser on a phone?

    Only if you are trying to write or run custom programs for the phone. Java = unproductive misery, javascript + html = productive fun.

    Think phone widgets, Om. That is what this announcement is about.

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  4. Hey, it makes perfect sense to me: Make a stupid decision. Then make a slightly better decision. And then finally make a good decision. It’s always nice to nail it on the first pop but at least now they’ve got it right.

    Browsers on phones may not be too important to most people right now, but it benefits all of us for them to become more important in the future. What it means is that you don’t have to “develop for the Samsung platform” or “develop for Nokia devices”. You just “develop”.

    Russell Beattie had a post several weeks ago about how he thought the Treo was a dead platform to develop for… to which my response was “why develop for ANY platform when you have HTML”.

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  5. mike

    u bring up some good arguments but the problem here is not the idea but the actual implementation. phone widgets as david suggests – great idea if phone operators let us have them. i am really concerned about the control the phone companies have on the os. also nokia’s track record makes me go hmmm!

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  6. Forget the widgets…. they hog memory / CPU even on my new G5 :-(

    They’re mostly helpful, but I wouldn’t use them at the expense of slowing down my phone!

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  7. “does anyone give a damn about a browser on a phone?”

    Series 60 Nokia Devices ARE NOT “PHONES” anymore in the same way you don’t call a PC “TypeWriter” or “Calculator” or “Hi-Fi Stereo”.
    “Phone” is just an application i.e a software/hardware feature.

    So these “things” are now COMPUTERS i.e bunch of soft + hard components that are agnostic regarding usage.
    “Internet surfing” is a classical feature for a Computer; thus the question is more : “Is it nice to browse the web on a 1.5” screen no keyboard computer ??”

    If the Series 60 can talk, it would say : “Hé Bro, don’t call me Phone or I will call you Neandertal !”

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  8. Julien

    a phone is a phone first and then something else. i don’t think phone is just an application. it is “the application. a phone’s primary function is making phone calls.

    you might think of them as computers, but don’t think of them as desktop computers. what works on the desktop doesn’t work on a phone. browse is a desktop activity and not a phone activity.

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  9. Om,

    I don’t think about these “hand-sized” devices as Desktop Computers, just like big boyz of late 70′s did not think about early Personal Computer as Mainframes…

    Mainstream Computers aka bunches of transistors and bits have been morphed from “One Room Shared” to “One Desktop Shared” (Mini-Comp) to “One Home Shared” (Desktop PC) to “One portable Personal” (Notebook).
    I think they are ready to morph to the “One Pocket-sized Personal” as Miniaturization progress…
    Will it be by the OQO/PC x86 Way or the SmartPhone ARM Way ?

    First, the question will be : “How you NAME this stuff ?” Cause SmartPhone is non-sense (Phones are not smart !!)
    UPC ? Teleputer ?

    Second, the question will be : how you interact with a computer that cannot have “all the time” a 12” screen nearby ??
    Rollable Displays ? Screen Eye Glasses ? Speech Recognition ?

    Big questions actually and big work for all techies such as you to qualify this new concept !!!

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  10. Julien,

    now i am worried about this new thing you describe. ah to come up a new tag line for this… tough.

    but i see your point.

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