Today, in yet another sign that open networks are coming to the US wireless world, Nokia announced it will purchase the remaining stock it doesn’t own in Symbian and then migrate the solution to an “Open” platform.
First question: why are they doing this? According to ABI Research vice president Stuart Carlaw: “There has been financial pressure on Nokia to move in this direction at some point. The sheer economics of the number of devices it ships with the OS versus the value it gets out of its historic shareholding clearly indicated that such a `rescue’ was inevitable at some point.”
The second question of course is: How open will the platform be? “Perhaps this is an admission that the pressure from the Linux industry is really forcing Nokia and Symbian to change their game,” adds Carlaw. “Questions remain as to whether the solution will be truly open and what the cost of a Symbian Foundation membership will be.”
ABI research director Kevin Burden believes Nokia may still maintain a proprietary operating system for high-end mobile devices. “It’s very possible that Nokia will eventually position the Symbian platform for mid-tier devices with another platform powering its high-end devices – a position that Sony Ericsson has already taken,” says Burden.
Om Malik has a good post on what it means. My bottom line is that there is clearly going to be a war to dominate the open wireless platform. And it’s probably going to take a few years for all of this to settle out. In the meantime, innovation will flourish but not as much as if the industry had already decided upon a single open platform. Get ready for the next standards war featuring Android by Google, Symbian by the Symbian Foundation, Blackberry by RIMM, OS X by Apple, Windows Mobile by Microsoft and the LiMo by the LiMo Foundation. It’s enough to make your head spin!!!