Nokia goes after Google with open-source Symbian

The competition to gain our hearts and money in exchange for a mobile phone just got hotter

Nokia has announced its Symbian mobile operating system will join the likes of Android and will become an open source operating system. The announcement was made Tuesday at the Smartphone Show in London and is seen as a bid to maintain and possibly grow its developer base. This move comes at the same time Google makes its Android source code available to developers. The Nokia news contradicts previous reports on Nokia adopting Android OS.

Fantastic Four

With four major mobile platforms competing with each other now - from Apple, Blackberry, Google and Nokia - the competition to gain our hearts and money in exchange for a mobile phone just got hotter. While Apple and Blackberry's platforms are proprietary, Google and Nokia's are left now to battle on the open source realm.

T-Mobile G1, using Google's Android OS, goes on sale Wednesday. The next two contenders in the touchscreen smartphone challenge will be the Blackberry Storm (available later this year) and Nokia 5800 Music Express (available early next year).

Style Counts

The actual hardware design of the smartphone may play a big part in driving sales. But the software inside is what actually makes all the difference on the long run. Can you imagine Apple's iPhone running a cumbersome OS with little innovation such as gesture support? That's why Google never built its own gPhone hardware and is focused on nurturing the Android OS. The Android OS will be used by various manufacturers such as Kyocera who will now be able to focus more on the hardware.

Up until now Nokia built its own hardware and develops its own software for its phones just as Apple and Blackberry do. That will change once the Symbian OS becomes an open source project welcoming many more developers to help build the OS. And certainly Nokia will not be the only one benefiting from open source community. Nokia shares its platform with Samsung and Sony Ericsson - both members of the Symbian Foundation.

Between Nokia's existing support for its Symbian OS and Google's growing support for Android are shaping up to be quite the mobile OS smackdown.

Only time will tell whether Nokia or Google will be the dominant open source smartphone OS. But placing a bet is quite hard to make taking in consideration Nokia's experience with mobile phones and Google's long term commitment to innovation.

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Daniel Ionescu

PC World
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