HomeInsightsNokia strengthens its Symbian hand

    Nokia strengthens its Symbian hand


    Motorola has signalled its intent to concentrate on other operating systems with the announcement it would be selling its share of Symbian to Nokia and Psion Software.

    The deal, when complete, would leave both Nokia and Psion with just over 30% of the alliance. However, despite the “Motorola quits Symbian” headlines the news sparked, the deal would not necessarily change the landscape of the European market too heavily.
    Motorola signalled at 3GSM in February that it would be developing Linux phones, and working heavily in Java, and also that China would be a priority. It is also, of course, becoming deeper and deeper involved with Microsoft.
    Nokia is already a de facto dominant player within Symbian, with its Series 60 Symbian platform licensed by Panasonic, Samsung and Siemens amongst others.
    It is also not as if Motorola is walking away entirely from the Symbian OS. The company emphasised that it would continue to license Symbian for its 3G phones, and pointed out, quite rightly, that Java and Symbian are not mutually exclusive.
    “As a Symbian licensee, Motorola will continue to support the Symbian OS for specific customer and business needs, such as in our 3G  devices. However, our primary software focus for the mass market will stay centered on Java, which is also supported by Symbian. We believe Java is what ultimately provides our customers worldwide with the most optimised and differentiated mobile experiences,” Scott Durchslag, corporate vice president of Motorola’s Personal Communications Sector, confirmed.
    With some irony, the news of Motorola’s withdrawal from Symbian ownership coincided with the launch in the UK of its 3G A920 phone, available through operator 3.
    Jessica Figueras, senior analyst and wireless software expert with Ovum agreed with the analysis that the decision makes little difference to Motorola’s strategy, but argued that it would have a knock on effect to other partners, and to Symbian’s ambitions outside Europe.
    “Motorola’s commitment to Symbian has always been half-hearted, so this development does not come as a big surprise.
    “What is more important is Nokia’s increased influence in Symbian. The widely-held perception of Nokia as Symbian’s back-seat driver has always been a difficult issue for Symbian, and this development will simply confirm many peoples’ suspicions. 
    “Making Nokia the largest shareholder upsets the balance with Sony Ericsson, which could force it to reassess its Symbian strategy. And losing Motorola’s expertise in North America and Asia will not help Symbian in its bid for a presence outside Europe. If it is to retain the confidence of all of its licensees, Symbian now needs to work even harder in demonstrating its independence from Nokia.”

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