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Updated: Will Nokia Jettison Symbian for Android? Answer Is "No"

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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.”

18 Responses to “Updated: Will Nokia Jettison Symbian for Android? Answer Is "No"”

  1. Bosun99uk

    Hi guys,
    Nokia is aware of the limitations and curent update requirements for symbian os/ui.
    Symbian soon will be a open source os and Nokia is also working with Intel, & u could be supprised that Nokia could come up with an Android phone.

    Iphone & Android phones are quite expensive and you have less options to choose from.

    Life is all about chioces & Nokia gives alot of that.

  2. Nokia is not going to take a U-Turn to Antroid as they have already invested too much in Symbian Foundation.. But they must think switching to Android if they want to dominate the smartphone market . They believe in driving straight and thats not always right..

  3. Vipin

    Symbian need to dump UI completely and rewrite afresh with maemo. As per symbian foundation they have a plan for it but way too long (If I remember correctly sometime 2011). They need it now to stay in the game.

  4. HereAndNow

    Nokia should consider migrating to Android as a platform. The reasons:

    1. Android is open source, so Nokia could recreate their own “user experience” on top of it (much like HTC has done with the Hero & Lenovo is doing with the OPhone). Nokia could even replace Google’s services with Ovi services.

    2. Android would move Nokia smartphones to a Linux kernel, which is stable, fast, scalable & would have drivers for current & future hardware components.

    3. Android is being prep’d for smartbooks/netbooks/MIDs, so Nokia would be able to offer these products, as well.

    4. Android would allow Nokia to focus on great devices, apps & services (real revenue), while the OHA members (which Nokia could become) & the Android community share the development & support costs of the base platform.

  5. Nokia should move to Android. The sooner the better. Look at N97. Excellent hardware but the software is so 90s. After spending so much money You would be ashamed to show it to your friends. They also need to get their heads around software update. The way they do it now is not done. 100s of different software versions of all their phones wont help. Apple is leading the industry in defining how software should be written and distributed. If Nokia refuses to learn, it will soon be a player only in third world markets. It can forget the Smartphone arena.

  6. david

    Symbian is not pleasant on so many levels. While part of wishes they would ditch it and admit failure, the fact is with as much market share as they currently have, it’s not gonna happen.

  7. This battle for the handset is analogous to what happened with Microsoft and Novell in the early ’90s. It’s really about the applications and not so much the Operating System.

    Microsoft made life easy for developers to write for their server operating system while Novell was still pushing their archaic tools for developers to write NLM (Netware Loadable Modules). Guess what, developers wrote for the MS platform. IS departments that grew up on the powerful Novell network operating system were forced to put in application servers based on Microsoft’s platform. Then why run two network operating systems? It was a slick easy sale.

    Same thing is happening here with handhelds. Apple is killing with their OS largely because developers are flocking to it and making cool apps. I don’t see the same for Nokia (or for RIM for that matter). For now the also ran’s next best choice will be Android. IMHO, right now the also rans are everybody but Apple.

    Wake up and smell the rotting Novell corpse on the floor.

    • cacarr

      Martin, by the end of the year, HTC, Samsung, Huawei, Motorola, and Sony Ericsson will all have released handsets running Android…talking 18+ handsets.

  8. The flagship Nokia N97 would be much better of with Android. The hardware feels better than T-Mobile G1, for a QWERTY user like me. But the OS with its slow browser and ugly email is a downer. Believe me! I am just testing it alongside with HTC Magic. Past and future in my hands. Ovi store is ridiculousl overpriced and understuffed. Worst: The app lacks a search function. Google Market is much better.

  9. Vance

    You can be sure that Nokia are paying close attention to Android, it would be foolish not to. They will continue to push Symbian but they may well develop and release one or more models running on Android to offer choice and hedge their bets.

  10. Subrahmanyam

    I doubt Nokia’s going to jeopardize its Symbian investments. Symbian is too established a platform in Europe/Asia. I reckon this might be a move to become friendly with US carriers, given the limited success that Nokia has seen in the US.

  11. They have to move on…

    having used the n97 for some days now it just feels like a blast from the past. ITs a very 2000 kind of software experience….very disappointed…

  12. This was natural to happen. Samsung, motorola etc announced their plans of using Android earlier but Nokia is somewhat late…but I was sure that it will..Carved in stone “Companies who are not able to build their own OS or those who are able to build their own OS will use Android” with former ones it is obvious that they don’t know how to make one. With the later ones they dont want to spend time and stay behind the race.