Squawk Box Discussion: Nokia and The Symbian Foundation

With the emergence of iPhone 3G and Blackberry Bold, certainly from a North American perspective, one has to wonder where Nokia is heading in the smartphone space. Certainly a clue evolved Tuesday when Nokia announced they were acquiring the remainder of Symbian they did not already own for $410 million along with a plan to put the key intellectual property assets into an open source “Symbian Foundation” under an Eclipse Public License. And they convinced other partners with a Symbian interest to also join the Foundation and contribute assets. Read Ed Burnette’s full post for his analysis of winners and losers.

Om then wrote one of his epic posts, “Symbian, iPhone and the New Reality” where he talked the realities of today’s mobile business:

  1. Handset makers need to accelerate the release of their phones much faster than the current 12-to-18 month production cycles or run the risk of getting RAZR-d into oblivion, like Motorola.
  2. Phones are now a fashion business in that you’re only as good as your last model. Phone makers need to release new models as quickly (if not faster) as Parisian couture makers if they want to remain hot and gain sizable share of the handset market.
  3. They subsequently can’t afford to muck around with proprietary software platforms that can take months to be approved by the mobile carriers.
  4. Carriers want standardization because they want to deploy applications quickly, without having to test them on different handsets — a slow and laborious process.
  5. Users want high-end, smartphone-like features on low-end phones.

Om goes on to discuss how the industry is changing such that not only are software platforms the only way to withstand this commoditization but also how Apple is changing the game with their overall distribution control and management of third party applications. Fundamentally third party developers can focus on development and marketing while they let Apple take care of the business development overhead by Apple’s facilitating the carrier availability, the distribution and the transactions.

Yesterday I was asked to be guest host of Squawk Box where we got into an interesting discussion around this subject, involving at least one developer participant in this scenario, William Volk at My Numo, and industry participants PhoneBoy and Dan York. You can go to the SaundersLog post to hear the entire discussion.

P.S. — Want to see a prime example of Om’s “smartphone realities” – check out the Skypephone: low cost, media-savvy, carrier friendly (and no recruitment subsidy required), third party software platform and “cool” (read fashion statement), in the countries where it is available.

Tags: Nokia, Symbian, iPhone, Squawk Box, SaundersLog, Om Malik, GigaOm, Ed Brunette

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About Jim Courtney

Bringing over thirty years' experience in the sales, marketing and management of cutting edge technology businesses.

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