C-C-C-Changes

Windows Phone OS to drop 'Phone' from name, lose Nokia

Microsoft News

Microsoft 'betrayed' Finland, says Finnish finance minister of layoffs

Rumors

Microsoft's aiming for flagship Windows Phones, killing Nokia X but selling MixRadio

Apps

New Treasure Tag app update ditches the 'Nokia' brand

Microsoft News

Rumor claims 1,000 former Nokia employees in Finland could be laid off by Microsoft

Apps

New Nokia MixRadio update ditches the 'Nokia' brand

Windows Phones

Lumia 930 pre-orders begin in Norway Wednesday for July 10 launch

Windows Phones

Microsoft Store US site pulls pre-order listings for Nokia Lumia 635

Apps

Nokia Imaging SDK 1.2 released, Lumia SensorCore SDK out of private beta

Windows Phones

Nokia Lumia 635 for AT&T and T-Mobile available for pre-order at US Microsoft Store site

General News

Microsoft teases possible launch date of a green Lumia or successor to the X

General News

Microsoft partners with British designer to create wireless charging pants

Microsoft News

Beat Nokia by predicting world cup games in Sporting Mouth to win some awesome prizes

General News

Lumia 930 availability on Ireland's Meteor pushed back to mid-July

Microsoft News

Nokia brand names Lumia, ClearBlack, PureView, and others now belong to Microsoft

General News

Lumia 1320, 630 availability expand to Argos Ireland

General News

Nokia Ireland confirms Lumia 930 launch on July 3

Windows Phones

Nokia Lumia 635 going on sale in Singapore on Saturday

Apps

Nokia updates Network+ again

General News

Nokia buying Medio Systems to improve its HERE maps service

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The Big Nokia / Symbian Shakeup: Effect on Windows Mobile?

The big smartphone news today is that Nokia finally got their act together and set forth a unified game plan for the Symbian platform. They're buying up the rest of it and then re-jiggering the Symbian Foundation as a non-profit that will offer its members Symbian for free to use on their smartphones. Or at least, that's the thumbnail version.

Most folks (right) see this as a big shot across the bow at Google's Android platform. If you have a choice between Android and Symbian you're choosing between two free smartphone platforms - one is brand new with a handful of developers, few shipped phones (none yet) and is tied very closely to Google, the other is well-estabilished with a legion of developers, hundreds-of-millions of shipped phones, and helps out Nokia but can also be tied to whatever carrier-based services you like. Google: that's gotta hurt.

What about the rest of the market? What about Windows Mobile? After the break, y'all.

Ok, so we're not entirely sure. WM is no slouch worldwide (as the above, slightly outdated graph shows, WM is maintaining a foothold despite Symbian's dominance and the iPhone's comeuppance), but will it be able to continue to attract developers and users? The short answer is yes, WM will do just fine.

Let's start with North America. While the new Symbian will eventually mean that they'll be able to make a real push into North America in a couple of years, it's still not going to make a significant dent in what is increasingly a fractured US market. By the time Nokia massages Symbian's S60 (or whatever the successor will be) so it's more palatable to US consumers, they'll be trying to make an entry into a market where BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, Palm's Linux / Palm's Garnet, and of course the iPhone all will have marketshare that is not to be sniffed at. Sure, that gives Symbian a chance to grab a chunk, but it will be such small potatoes that I wonder if Nokia will really be able to put their heart into trying. They haven't in the past, I tend to doubt they will in the future.

Internationally, Windows Mobile is still competitive (very competitive) in the enterprise market. If anything, the new Symbian system might hurt BlackBerry more than it hurts Windows Mobile. The hot WM devices are coming a lot faster than what RIM is able to put out and should help WM keep a spot as a 2nd or 3rd fiddle to Symbian worldwide. Witness the Touch, Touch Diamond, Touch Pro, Samsung's offerings, and more. All of these are selling and selling well. RIM has a bunch of stuff coming -- but after the Bold hits the rest is still pretty mysterious. Everywhere except North America, Smartphone == Symbian for most people, and for those that opt-out the question is what the backup choice is. I think Windows Mobile has the best shot at being that choice -- both for consumers and developers. That goes double for enterprise.

Since we're discounting BlackBerrys as too slow to come out to stay competitive in Europe, discounting Android as too Google-nichey (and not out either!), and believe that WM is going to be able to hold its own, the only X factor left is the LiMo Foundation and/or Palm's upcoming OS (read: Linux). We're pretty sure that Symbian puts Linux in a box too, but it's too early to say.

What do you think? Will Nokia's gambit pay off?

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Reader comments

The Big Nokia / Symbian Shakeup: Effect on Windows Mobile?

4 Comments

I think its difficult to predict, but symbian has been pretty cheap for some time, in around $4 per license. While having this come down to $0 will result in substantial savings, one would wonder if the license fees have actually been a barrier to entry, or if there has been other reasons everyone has not been making Symbian phones, unlike the many small startups making WM devices.
Surur

I think its difficult to predict, but symbian has been pretty cheap for some time, in around $4 per license. While having this come down to $0 will result in substantial savings, one would wonder if the license fees have actually been a barrier to entry, or if there has been other reasons everyone has not been making Symbian phones, unlike the many small startups making WM devices.
Surur
Good point. Just for comparison, how much does winmob cost?
I also wondered how much avoidance of Symbian by other licensees is due in part to Nokia being a dominant presence. There have been a few times in the past where Nokia bought out a software company and then it disappeared to all but S60...intellisync comes to mind, and there was an IM program too...
At least WinMob licensees are reasonably sure Microsoft isn't going to pull the rug out from under them...

Good point. Just for comparison, how much does winmob cost?
The consensus is between $8 and $15, depending on which package and components the OEM choses.
Surur

The consensus is between $8 and $15, depending on which package and components the OEM choses.
Surur
Interesting. So you're right, it's probably not the (relatively) cheaper license fee that held companies back from Symbian. I really do think it might be a concern about going against Nokia, they don't always seem to share well with others.