Why Nokia should offer a mobile OS Smorgasbord

Summary:Nokia has been a no-show in North America, specifically the U.S., but that may change if it can come up with a unique approach to the market. Here's a thought: Offer more than Symbian as an operating system.

Nokia has been a no-show in North America, specifically the U.S., but that may change if it can come up with a unique approach to the market. Here's a thought: Offer more than Symbian as an operating system.

Rumors have been circulating that Nokia is seriously pondering a move to Windows Phone 7. This rumor isn't all that surprising since new CEO Stephen Elop is a former Microsoft exec. But why stop there? Why not offer Android as an OS too?

What if you could buy a Nokia at a U.S. carrier and had a simple drop-down box for an OS. You could pick Symbian, Windows Phone 7 or Android. In many respects, it would be no different than choosing a PC with Windows 7 or Ubuntu. The OS would be an option.

Now the logistics could be a bit complicated---Nokia would have to integrate three operating systems with its hardware---but the company would have something different for the U.S. market. Let's face it: Nokia is a hardware company that dabbles in software. The U.S. for Nokia could be an emerging market and if the company wants to innovate it should go toe-to-toe with the Motorola, Research in Motion and Apple.

A few reasons why this idea could be interesting:

  • Nokia needs some hook to jump start its brand. You could do worse than being the brand that stands for choice.
  • Nokia would effectively hedge its bets across the operating systems.
  • The company wouldn't completely toss Symbian, but it also wouldn't be tethered to the success of it.

But a choice of three operating systems---it's a safe assumption that Apple won't license the iOS---would be a differentiator. Meanwhile, Nokia could do what it does best. Make hardware and scale.

Related:

Topics: Nokia, Mobility, Operating Systems, Software

About

Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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