Dont expect to find Googles new Android platform on a Nokia phone soon, if
ever. Nokias official stance is that its open to any new innovation in the
market, especially one that will drive mobile data usage as Android ostensibly
would. But Bill Plummer, vice president of multimedia for Nokia North America,
points out Nokias Series 60 platform is already embedded in half the worlds
smartphones so its not currently looking for any alternatives.
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“We have a developer community that numbers in the millions, and last year we
brought 40 million devices to market,” Plummer said. “At this stage the optimal
solution for a phone is S60.”
Does that mean Nokia is remaining closed, while Google is the beacon of
openness? Hardly, according to Plummer. “The changes that are taking place in
the market — dont let anybody tell you its about convergence,” he said. “Its
Google and a handful of hardware and software vendors and carriers are promoting
their own operating system (OS) solution at the expense of others, Plummer said.
The core OS may be based on Linux and it may be opensource, but opensource or
no opensource, throwing a new platform into a market that has already coalesced
around several other platforms doesnt unify the industry — rather it fragments
it further, he said. Plummer doesnt challenge Googles right to launch such a
platform — after all, Nokia’s S60Symbian platform is itself one of several
competing OSs — but the feelgood vibes Google is attributing to Android are
misplaced, he said.
Nokia, too, has been dabbling with open source. Symbian may be a licensed
operating system, but Nokia took the S60 browser open source last year, using
the same Apple Safari WebKit code that powers Androids browser. Nokia also uses
Linux in its Internet tablet series, designed for WiFi and WiMAX networks, but
Plummer said that those devices are intended to be mobile computers and the OS
wont be transferring to the handset.
So whats the difference between Google and Nokias flavors of open source?
Probably not much, said John Jackson, wireless analyst for Yankee Group. Google
and Nokia may have widely divergent approaches to the Java virtual machine and
access to the underlying code, but on the browser they appear to be in the same
camp. Google has made it clear that its vision for the mobile Internet is very
browsercentric. That Webbased service approach tied to the same basic browser
likely will mean that many applications designed for Android also will work on
S60, Jackson said.
“Its highly likely when Google talks about opensource browsing and Nokia talks
about opensource browsing, theyre really talking about the same thing,”
And ultimately that could resolve a very real problem for Google — that the
worlds largest handset vendor isnt getting on board with its plans.