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Nokia: We're Fully Commited to Symbian

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The Financial Times (Germany) is quoting a source close to Nokia (s NOK) as saying that the company might dump the Symbian operating system and instead opt for its LinuxOS, Maemo. The rumor has been picked up by various blogs and built up a life its own. Given that Symbian will soon release an overhauled version of its operating system sometime later this year and will eventually release it to developers and handset makers, it would be strange to see Nokia throw in the towel this soon.

And given that Nokia had spent $410 million on Symbian before open sourcing it, I couldn’t buy into the story. A similar nonsensical rumor surfaced a few months ago and was quickly shot down by Nokia. So today, I reached out to the Nokia spokesperson, who dismissed the latest one as well.

“We absolutely remain committed to Symbian and S60,” the spokesperson said. “Symbian remains our choice for smartphones and we’ll continue to see enhancements that further the value and experiences on this platform.” Nokia is working on non-smartphone devices such as the N900 tablet. Maemo is the operating system for Nokia’s Internet tablets.

“However, recognizing that the value we bring to the consumer is increasingly represented through software, there is logically not just one software environment that fits all consumer and market needs,” the spokesperson said. “In addition, as we’ve stated before, we also continue to explore opportunities around a new class of devices that we see as the next segment of high performance mobile devices. Maemo is very much part of that thinking but of course there’s nothing new to announce in this regard.”

Many, including yours truly, believe that Nokia and Symbian are being slow with their response to the challenges posed by more Internet-savvy mobile operating systems, namely Google’s Android, Palm’s WebOS and Apple’s iPhone OS.

16 Responses to “Nokia: We're Fully Commited to Symbian”

  1. It’s great for Apple that Nokia is too stubborn to go with Android, because once they put their weight behind Android, it marks the day Apple’s obsession with control and unsustainably high profit margins have once again relegated an Apple platform to niche obscurity.

    • Janus

      I disagree — I think Android isn’t the answer for Nokia. I think the answer lies within and a focus on building devices that are more software centric. They need to figure out the Web stuff by bringing in new blood – sort of like what Ericsson is doing. Instead they are mired in old thinking.

      Bringing in Android is like SGI bringing in Windows NT. Look where they are now… oh right nowhere to be found. Android-based phones are going to be a disaster for rest of the industry except Google. Just wait and see.

      • Om,
        Hmm, I might want to disagree with your statement about Andriod Phones being disaster.
        Samsung and HTC are behind it. These two manufactures know their hardware s better than anyone ( leave APPLE alone). Andriod can provide the software on their solid hardware (Actually , Android is providing the software for these two manufactures as we speak).

        Lets wait and see.

        And there is this small matter of Lenovo planning to dump a billion Andriod phones in mainland china.

      • Hey Om,

        Can you elaborate more about why you feel Android would be bad for the industry? I don’t think SGI analogy is valid; Nokia sticking with Symbian would be more like IBM sticking with AIX. Yeah, still works for a niche, but certainly not as well as it worked 15 years ago.

        Analogies aside, obviously Google would be the main beneficiary of Android becoming the de-facto mainstream standard, just like Microsoft was when Windows became the standard choice in the 90’s. But just like it happened with Windows, Android has now the potential to fuel the growth of an entire industry of developers, content producers and a whole new generation of portable connected devices. And this is good.

        Yeah, Apple will continue innovating in its own little-big feud – just like they do with computers – and that’s O.K. But despite Apple, we still need a mainstream competing platform for the rest of the industry, and it’s crystal clear that Symbian is NOT this platform, and even less so WinMob. And I’m not betting on Maemo either…

        Of course I don’t trust Google either, and would rather see a reliable alternative coming from Nokia or Ericsson instead of the big G, but unfortunately this wasn’t the case. They both did wrong bets over past few years, and now it’s late to start yet-another multi-million dollars effort to develop and OS from scratch.

        (unless Nokia buys Palm).

        So, it’s a catch-22. Android may represent a risk for the industry, but even greater risk is to not do anything.


      • The analogy about SGI moving to NT is more about how once they did, it signalled the end of IRIX. If Ericsson looks like they’re not fully supporting Symbian, why would anyone else support it?

  2. I played with Maemo and personally think it is more cumbersome but have no idea on how it compares to Symbian. However if something can compete with Android or WebOS – Maemo is better off then Symbian.