Why Nokia should offer a mobile OS Smorgasbord

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.

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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

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13 comments
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  • The N8 is good

    If you want a phone with WebKit browser, massive 12 megapixal camera, and the only smartphone on the market that gets days of battery life, then the N8 is for you.<br><br>I'm really looking forward to the MeeGo phone operating system, for high-end up-market smartphones. Its GPL license means it is the most open phone platform there is.<br><br>Symbian and MeeGo don't get much publicity in the United States, but there is a lot of worldwide interest in them.
    Vbitrate
    • RE: Why Nokia should offer a mobile OS Smorgasbord

      @Market Analyst

      Just wish to second you on your comments. Symbian and Meego don't get the US geeks drooling over them because Nokia has never had good distribution in the US. They should fix that.

      As for Android, everyone should stop distribtution of Google spyware.
      jorjitop
  • Agreed N8 with Symbian^3 open source is good.

    My aging N95 *still* outperforms my colleagues' iPhones.
    Too funny.
    Dietrich T. Schmitz, ~ Your Linux Advocate
    • I believe it

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz, Your Linux Advocate
      The iPhone isn't anywhere near as perfect as the Apple zealots make it out to be.
      NonZealot
  • Silly idea

    They need to focus.

    W7 is a smaller player than Nokia is, it doesn't make sense for them to take 2 steps backwards when they're already behind. Makes sense for Microsoft to get a leg up though.

    Android is a mosh-pit, the current contenders in that market (HTC, Samsung, Sony Ericcson) will find they end up competing with Chinese knockoffs and no way to add value since everyone has the same platform to start from.

    IMHO, Nokia more than anything needs to fix it's documentation. Whenever I wanted to code for that platform, I found their documentation a confused muddle of randomly ordered documents written by ultra-techies and marketing bods. A quick visit to their current site, and the top document is a Q&A session from a Webinar in SPANISH!
    http://www.forum.nokia.com/Develop/Qt/Documentation/

    You get the idea, this is not an outfit that can put across a coherent developer message.
    Look at the first of their documentation slide views (the one at the BOTTOM of the screen). That tells you bugger all technically useful info, it only clouds the issue as to whether you need buy a license to use QT on Nokia phones.

    I wouldn't touch that with a barge pole. They need to get their technical documentation sorted.
    guihombre
  • My favorite cell phone ever was made by Nokia

    It was a dumbphone, not even an expensive one but it got [b]everything[/b] just right. I would dump my iPhone and buy a Nokia WP7.5 phone the second it came out.
    NonZealot
  • RE: Why Nokia should offer a mobile OS Smorgasbord

    @ guihombre Get some perspective. Smartphone may need developers but they are not marketplace. Users would gravitate to choice
    @Nonzealot Agreed, my 1st was a 6160 with Cellular One. My last an E63 which is great except lacking touchscreen.
    @Dignan Are you suggesting a 'tri-boot' smartphone or that Nokia would offer any one of these OS'es on their phones?
    bunkport
    • RE: Why Nokia should offer a mobile OS Smorgasbord

      @bunkport
      You can already dual or tri-boot a Nokia N900 with MAemo, Meego, Android (NitDroid), or choose from various other Linux variataions.
      Hell someone even made several versions of windows work on it too.

      Nokia should keep developing Meego and slowly phase out Symbian or just keep it in lower end dumbphones.
      H3llb0und
  • RE: Why Nokia should offer a mobile OS Smorgasbord

    Why would Nokia offer WP7 & pay license fees or any other os when they are committed to their own? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MeeGo
    step69
    • Maybe because it's about what consumers want...?

      @step69
      You can have the greatest (in your own opinion) phone OS in the world (and you may even be right about that), but if the world wants something else then you've got 2 options.

      1.) Sink
      2.) Offer the other OS and stay afloat.

      It's your decision...
      Wolfie2K3
  • What I like about Nokia

    is their RF section. Mobile phones are first and foremost a radio and Nokia made the best radio section I have seen. My Nokia pulled a strong clear signal when all the other phones around me struggled to maintain a connection. The advice I have for cell phone manufacturers is to make a good radio and then pile the other crap on.
    don3605
  • RE: Why Nokia should offer a mobile OS Smorgasbord

    That is an interesting idea - I wonder if they would even go so far as to have a dual boot device... say be able to run both Symbian AND Android or Android and WP7 on the same device? If they could do that, would do that, and did it with AT&T I'd get one and use my iPhone as an iPod...

    I had a Nokia feature phone a long time ago and it was a really solid device... much more solid than most devices sold today.
    athynz
  • RE: Why Nokia should offer a mobile OS Smorgasbord

    I agree completely, Nokia has no choice but to look beyond Symbian! Something similar here http://www.writeaprogram.net/?p=417
    sachinag