Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Nokia stirs water with mobile Linux

It seems it's time for another round to discuss about whether Nokia will abandon Symbian OS in favour of (mobile) Linux. All About Symbian has reported that "Nokia's Chief Financial Officer said Nokia is considering manufacturing Linux-based mobile phones". This information is confirmed by Unwired View as well, although in a slightly different tone: they say "Nokia sees increasing role of Linux in handsets". Finally, El Reg is saying that "Nokia says no plan to switch phones to Linux".

Who to believe? Having read the comments carefully, people seems to have the following opinions/see the following options:

  • The biggest haters of Symbian say that it's natural that Linux will take over and this is exactly what they've always claimed.
  • According to a bit more careful opinion, these two mobile operating systems will co-exist. There are couple of arguments for this scenario:
    • Symbian/S60 is undoubtedly the leader in smartphone market
    • There's room for both OSes: Symbian excels in high-performance mobile phones, whereas Linux could be successful in mid-range feature phones.
    • Nokia has already heavily invested in the development of a mobile OS and is a nearly 50% shareholder of Symbian these days - why would they ruin all this?
    • The development of a smartphone running on Linux still takes a LOT of time.
  • Some more paranoid commenters say that "Linux is not really a threat for Symbian, but rather a motivation" to work & perform even better in today's extremely competing environment (i.e. mobile OSes and smartphone market). They believe that Nokia wants to make pressure on Symbian by announcing new Linux-powered devices from time to time.
  • Finally, there are those who don't give a sh.t to what OS is running on a phone, they "just" want their Flash/Python/Java/etc. applications (whether they wrote them or not) to run smoothly in the future, too. Some of these people also mention that it's the same if the OS gets replaced, the UI (i.e. S60) is what's important - and if it remains, nothing will change actually.

Personally, I think that Nokia is still making experiments with Linux. Don't forget that they already have mobile Linux devices (Internet tablets running on Maemo platform), though, those are not mobile phones, just sort of PDAs. In today's fragmented mobile Linux market, no one mobile manufacturers dare to commit themselves to take Linux as the leading operating system for their products - it would simply be way too risky. It's been also said numerous times that there are lots of factors that manufacturers must consider when selecting a mobile OS and Linux is definitely NOT the ultimate solution today. Nokia might abandon Symbian in the future, however, it's not time for that. Yet.

Any thoughts?



David Gonzales said...

I think a combination of S60 Symbian and Linux would be interesting to see in one phone, although you'd have to wonder how much processing power that would take. I guess we'll have to wait until Google rolls out Android to really get a feel of what it's capable of.

poison_ivy said...

Like what you said, Nokia already owns 50 percent of Symbian so I don't think that they would be abandoning symbian anytime soon. That's the main reason why they're still not making windows mobile devices...or at least, that's what other people think. :D