Open Phones Imminent-But Whose?

NokiaWhen Google’s Android platform – the technology behind so-called Google Phones – was announced late last fall, I immediately thought about the open-source implications affecting the mobile space overall. As I said in this post, because the technology is open to all developers, Android-powered phones could eventually boast superior software and become the top handsets in the market.

Recent events, however, might be even better for consumers and marketers trying to reach them. Nokia, the world’s top cell phone maker, on Tuesday announced it is buying software-maker Symbian, whose operating system of the same name is on the majority of mobile phones all over the globe (not counting the innumerable flavors of Linux in Asia), and is on two-thirds of smartphones alone.

The kicker? Nokia plans to offer Symbian royalty-free to all handset makers, and will create an organization of phone manufacturers, carriers, and semiconductor companies to create an open-source platform ”with wide industry appeal.”

Just like Google and its Open Handset Alliance!

Members of the so-called Symbian Foundation include Nokia rivals Sony Ericsson, Motorola and NTT DOCOMO; and AT&T, LG Electronics, Samsung Electronics, STMicroelectronics, Texas Instruments and Vodafone.

Meanwhile, Google’s handset plans aren’t going so smoothly. The phones now won’t reach the market until the fourth quarter, with carriers citing such issues as time constraints and lack of support from most mobile software developers. That’s bad news, at least for the search giant, especially after prototypes that Google showed off at the Mobile World Congress got observers all excited (and me as well, if you remember this post).

But for consumers and marketers, it’s a win-win. Now that there’s a second open platform and alliance in the works, Google will step up efforts to stay ahead. Both Google and Nokia are going to want to make their respective platforms the most appealing to the most players. In the end, that will mean the best possible phones for consumers – and the best mobile marketing opportunities for marketers.

All we need now is for RIM and Apple to enter the race”¦

Eydie Cubarrubia
Marketing Communications Manager, mobileStorm
“I’d rather you text me”


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