Updated: The Guardian reports that Nokia (s NOK) is planning a touchscreen mobile phone that runs Google’s (s goog) Android operating system and the handset maker will likely show off the device at the Nokia World conference in September 2009. When I read the story based on information from “industry insiders,” I was incredulous.
Analysts at HSBC reckon Nokia had 47 percent of the global smartphone market in 2007; that was down to 35 percent last summer and 31 percent at the end of the year…But the response to the opening of Symbian has been relatively muted. By contrast, users of the iPhone have already downloaded over a billion applications in just nine months and Android has attracted a host of developers offering their “widgets,” or applications, to consumers through the Android Marketplace.
Will Nokia jettison hundreds of millions of dollars it has invested in Symbian, the operating system that powers its Nokia N- and E-Series phones, among others? If it does, it would be a major shift for the company and a tactical admission that its own efforts in developing software and services for a new era of the mobile web was a bust. It also would be a continuation of a muddled and convoluted response to the smartphone assault by the likes of Apple and BlackBerry. Smartphones are one of the fastest-growing and most lucrative portions of the handset business, as illustrated by the profits being raked in by Apple and Research In Motion.
I am still having a tough time believing that Nokia will switch horses. It is quite possible that the company is using Android as a basis for a 3G- or 4G-enabled netbook-type device that’s powered by Intel’s chips.
The two companies recently announced in a press release “a long-term relationship to develop a new class of Intel Architecture-based mobile computing device and chipset architectures which will combine the performance of powerful computers with high-bandwidth mobile broadband communications and ubiquitous Internet connectivity.”
Update: Nokia has denied any such plans and dismissed the Guardian story. “Absolutely no truth to this whatsoever,” a Nokia spokesman was quoted by Reuters as saying. “Everyone knows that Symbian is our preferred platform for advanced mobile devices.”