Government // Mobile & Wireless
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10/1/2008
06:42 PM
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Nokia CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo Details Services, Symbian

Despite its worldwide leadership in the handset market, the company's chief executive describes how Nokia is building its U.S. business beyond cell phones.

Nokia made a major move earlier this year by purchasing the remaining shares of Symbian it didn't own and spinning it off into the Symbian Foundation. The new foundation was created with the goal of making the OS a royalty-free, open source mobile platform.

The open source operating system will combine elements of the Symbian OS with Nokia's S60, DoCoMo Mobile Oriented Applications Platform, and UIQ to create the new mobile platform. The foundation also features many heavyweights in the mobile industry, including AT&T, Broadcom, and Samsung.

The first handsets with the new Symbian OS are expected to be available in 2010, and Kallasvuo said the goal is to get the OS bigger, better, and faster by harnessing the innovations of an open environment.

"When you compare it to other competitors in the market, many of them are not constructed in a way where the openness is complete. This will have no hooks or disclaimers," Kallasvuo said.

But Google is making a strong push in the mobile industry with its open source Android platform, and the recently introduced G1 handset has piqued the interest of some consumers and developers. Kallasvuo did not address Android directly, but said he believes the track record of Symbian will make it a more compelling OS than open source rivals.

"Symbian will be open and mature, and if you look at the size, industry support, ecosystem, and developer activity ... it's second to none," he said.

With the iPhone 3G, BlackBerry, and Android drawing a lot of headlines and attention, the new Symbian may be facing a developer mindshare issue in places like Silicon Valley. TechCrunch's Michael Arrington recently called Nokia and Symbian "irrelevant," despite the fact that both are the global leaders in their respective markets.

Kallasvuo obviously does not agree, and he pointed to Symbian's roughly 60% share of the global market, as well as the thousands of applications that are available. But he acknowledged that both companies have some work to do to combat this perception in certain regions, and said Nokia is actively building and investing to step up its presence in the United States.

This article was edited on 10/3 to clarify Nokia's stance on CDMA technology.

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