Symbian

The world is aflutter today (and journalism has taken a back seat) with the unsubstantiated rumor that Nokia, under leadership of Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, who used to work with Microsoft, is in secret talks to work with Microsoft on releasing some Windows Phones. The rumor comes from Eldar Murtazin, who has attained near celebrity status with his rumor posts, despite the mediocre track record. In a post he writes (translated):

In the last month behind closed doors is a discussion of expanded cooperation Nokia and Microsoft (two-way discussion, initiated by the new leadership of Nokia). Not simply the exchange of technology, but creating an entire line of Windows Phone devices that may go under the name Nokia, through the sales channels for the company, and will also have the characteristic features of its products. This is a desperate measure of the two companies. The last step for the salvation of Android, which crushes everything in its path.

Nokia has very recently denied such future moves, instead reaffirrming their committment to Symbian and MeeGo OS, yet the rumor persists, perhaps out of wishful thinking. It is certainly possible that Nokia may release a secondary line of phones with WP7 on board--heck, Palm did the same years ago till they got back on their feet (to fall on their face again)--but we're not holding our breath on this one. For one, there is no secondary source that comes even close to backing this up and number two, financially it doesn't make much sense (see summary at ZDNet).

But we'll leave the possibility open. We're just not that confident in the idea. Even if Nokia does go forward with a Windows Phone line, so what? Has Nokia hardware (in absence of their OS) been anything truly remarkable? Or has HTC, Samsung and Apple grabbed the spotlight with hardware innovation and unique design? Call us cynical, but we're going with the latter. If Nokia and Microsoft hatch out a plan though, it will only help Windows Phone presence in the market.  That is something we could live with, even if we are skeptical of the whole idea.

Source: Mobile-review; via ZDNet

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Nokia? We're doing a Nokia week in the Round Robin? OK, but I thought Nokia was just for Europeans. And maybe it is, at least in terms of popularity. As far as Nokia goes in the United States, well, it just doesn't go very far. There's very little carrier support (the N71 got some love on AT&T), we're mostly used to considering Nokia the leader in cheap dumbphones.

But after a long weekend with Nokia Experts' Matt Miller showing us the N900 and N97 Mini, whoa, Nellie, were we ever wrong.

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First there was Opera Mobile 9.5 beta, which gave way to Opera Mobile 9.7 beta. Now, enter Opera Mobile 10 beta for Symbian. And it looks like a likely progression and brings much-improved password management, among a host of other features. Question is, will we see Opera Mobile 10 on Windows Mobile? Wmpoweruser says yes, unofficially, even though there's zero mention of WinMo in the Symbian release. So, we'll just have to see. [Opera Mobile 10 beta]

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5

Symbian losing their mojo

Its been a year since we last ran the numbers and its time to find out how everyone weights in at the smartphone market scale. Overall the smartphone community has grown which is always good, but the surprising numbers are coming from Symbian.

Back in the day Symbian was holding in at a steady 65.6 in market share. Today they

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Michael Dell drops vague hint at smartphone

Never one to be left out of the smartphone rumor mill, Dell now is rumored to be possibly working on a smartphone.

Maybe.

In an interview with Om Malik, founder Michael Dell drops the following bombshell:

"We are certainly looking at the whole smartphone category, but I wouldn’t expect anything anytime soon."

There you have it, folks.

OK, he did talk about five opportunities that Dell is looking into - consumer business, mobile computers, emerging nations, enterprise and medium/small businesses. And he did note that he's not ready to go public on any plans to work with Android or Symbian.

So that's more than enough to get things going. Let the speculation begin!

Read the GigaOM interview (via Engadget Mobile)

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The big smartphone news today is that Nokia finally got their act together and set forth a unified game plan for the Symbian platform. They're buying up the rest of it and then re-jiggering the Symbian Foundation as a non-profit that will offer its members Symbian for free to use on their smartphones. Or at least, that's the thumbnail version.

Most folks (right) see this as a big shot across the bow at Google's Android platform. If you have a choice between Android and Symbian you're choosing between two free smartphone platforms - one is brand new with a handful of developers, few shipped phones (none yet) and is tied very closely to Google, the other is well-estabilished with a legion of developers, hundreds-of-millions of shipped phones, and helps out Nokia but can also be tied to whatever carrier-based services you like. Google: that's gotta hurt.

What about the rest of the market? What about Windows Mobile? After the break, y'all.

Ok, so we're not entirely sure. WM is no slouch worldwide (as the above, slightly outdated graph shows, WM is maintaining a foothold despite Symbian's dominance and the iPhone's comeuppance), but will it be able to continue to attract developers and users? The short answer is yes, WM will do just fine.

Let's start with North America. While the new Symbian will eventually mean that they'll be able to make a real push into North America in a couple of years, it's still not going to make a significant dent in what is increasingly a fractured US market. By the time Nokia massages Symbian's S60 (or whatever the successor will be) so it's more palatable to US consumers, they'll be trying to make an entry into a market where BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, Palm's Linux / Palm's Garnet, and of course the iPhone all will have marketshare that is not to be sniffed at. Sure, that gives Symbian a chance to grab a chunk, but it will be such small potatoes that I wonder if Nokia will really be able to put their heart into trying. They haven't in the past, I tend to doubt they will in the future.

Internationally, Windows Mobile is still competitive (very competitive) in the enterprise market. If anything, the new Symbian system might hurt BlackBerry more than it hurts Windows Mobile. The hot WM devices are coming a lot faster than what RIM is able to put out and should help WM keep a spot as a 2nd or 3rd fiddle to Symbian worldwide. Witness the Touch, Touch Diamond, Touch Pro, Samsung's offerings, and more. All of these are selling and selling well. RIM has a bunch of stuff coming -- but after the Bold hits the rest is still pretty mysterious. Everywhere except North America, Smartphone == Symbian for most people, and for those that opt-out the question is what the backup choice is. I think Windows Mobile has the best shot at being that choice -- both for consumers and developers. That goes double for enterprise.

Since we're discounting BlackBerrys as too slow to come out to stay competitive in Europe, discounting Android as too Google-nichey (and not out either!), and believe that WM is going to be able to hold its own, the only X factor left is the LiMo Foundation and/or Palm's upcoming OS (read: Linux). We're pretty sure that Symbian puts Linux in a box too, but it's too early to say.

What do you think? Will Nokia's gambit pay off?

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Tam Hanna has taken the time to go over Handango's "Yardstick 2007" report (not my favorite company, but that's a different rant) which shows how the industry is changing in terms of platforms (PalmOS, WM Standard, WM Pro, Sybmian, BB) and category of applications e.g. games, productivity, etc.

With the added touch of some simple Excel graphs, Tam finds some very interesting results. For instance, in the number of new applications added for WM Professional, it actually dipped in 2007 compared to 2006--which is quite the surprise. However, WM Standard actually increased, suggesting non-touchscreen devices, which have become more prevalent and cheaper, are quickly growing and balancing out Standard's big bro's position.

Some other interesting findings:

  • PPC-6700 & 700wx are the top PPC devices adding software
  • Moto Q and Sammy BJ are the top Standard ones
  • Average application price has dropped in 2007
  • SPB has 7 out of 10 of the best selling PPC apps

But probably the biggest shock is how Windows Mobile (while increasing for Standard by a bit and decreasing for Professional) is being eclipsed by Symbian and BlackBerry who are rapidly growing. Yikes. Go over and take a look at all the perty numbers and graphs and drop a comment below on your thoughts.

Personally, I think the explosive growth of the WM freeware and home-coder community has taking some market from the professional developer community, things like PointUI, WeatherPanel, multiple free IM clients and all the happenings at XDA has resulted in what looks to me as an explosion in high quality free apps. Agree?

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GPS Nav. for the Blind

This should have existed, oh, the moment GPS was commercially available. Nevertheless, I'm happy to hear that an Italian company is currently testing a GPS app written specifically for the blind. It's Symbian-only right now, but I have an extremely difficult time believing a similar app couldn't be written for Windows Mobile:

It requires just two dedicated keys on the mobile phone - one which, when pressed, tells the user their exact location including the house or building number and the other one alerts the call centre that the person needs assistance with navigation.

The next stage, the call from the call center, involved being given step by step directions from a human being in real time. Funny how my initial reaction to that is distrust (how many times have you been given bad directions?) - but not being blind means you can visually look around a map to see if something's accurate. So all in all, let's hope we see this sort of thing here.

Read: BBC NEWS | Technology | GPS navigation plan to help blind

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