Analysts Say Nokia Might Drop Symbian OS

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ARCchart, a European market research and consulting firm, says that Nokia might be considering dropping the Symbian OS in favor of Linux.

For evidence, ARCchart points out that Nokia recently licensed Microsoft’s ActiveSync technology, despite the fact that Symbian Limited was in the process of making the same sort of deal.

As virtually all of Nokia’s high-end devices are based on the Symbian OS, Nokia doesn’t really need its own license of this technology unless it intends to make more non-Symbian OS devices.

Symbian In addition, Nokia has announced plans to release its first Linux-based device, the 770. This isn’t a smartphone, but a tablet designed to access the Web over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.

Nokia could have based the 770 on the Symbian OS, but chose not to.

The Repercussions

If Nokia did switch to Linux, it would be a severe blow to Symbian Limited, the company that develops and licenses the Symbian OS.

This is a partnership between several smartphone makers, and Nokia itself ownes almost half the company and contributes most of its revenues.

Nokia has attempted in the past to take full control of Symbian Limited, but so far has been unsuccessful.

ARCchart is suggesting that Nokia may be planning to give up on Symbian and develop its own operating system.

It would have to pay its own development costs, but would save the large amounts of money it gives to Symbian Limited in licensing fees.

Some Background

The Symbian OS provides the underpinnings for smartphones and cellular-wireless handhelds, but it doesn’t include a user interface.

Nokia’s Series 60 and Series 80 are user interfaces that runs on top of the Symbian operating system. Series 60 is the best-selling smartphone platform world wide.

What Nokia may be planning to do is port Series 60 and Series 80 over to Linux. This would mean that, in theory, users of Nokia smartphones and handhelds would not notice any difference.

This is very similar to what PalmSource is doing. The next version of the Palm OS will be based on Linux, but the familiar Palm OS user interface will be virtually unchanged.

More information is available on the ARCchart web site.

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