Nokia Pushes Symbian Via Contests

By Carmen Nobel  |  Posted 2001-12-03

Nokia Corp. is backing a number of efforts in support of the Symbian operating system, part of the phone makers push for mass adoption of the operating system in the industry.

The Espoo, Finland, wireless equipment manufacturer last week kicked off the Nokia Mobile Challenge, a series of contests to encourage developers to build applications for Symbian and for Nokias new smart phones. Application categories include communications, entertainment and productivity enhancers.

This is the last of a recent series of moves to push Symbian to developers. The company announced that Borland Software Corp. will support Nokias Series 60 voice and data platform with its JBuilder and JBuilder MobileSet developer tools. In addition, Borland will develop a C++ development environment, due in the first half of next year, for platforms based on Symbian.

Nokia last week announced it will license the Series 60 platform, which runs on Symbian, to other phone makers. Nokia officials said last week that the company is encouraging industrywide adoption of Symbian. So far, Nokia is Symbians main supporter, even though a consortium of phone companies created the operating system.

"[Symbian] has become captive to Nokia," said Ken Dulaney, an analyst at Gartner Inc., a San Jose, Calif., consultancy.

For phones, Symbian is designed to support complex wireless data and Internet applications. But some companies that used to be bullish on Symbian now are shying away. Ericsson AB, of Stockholm, Sweden, for example, was one of Symbians founders.

The company has one Symbian-based product, its R380 smart phone, which has been on the market in Europe for almost two years and in the United States for several months. The phone started out selling for the equivalent of $600. Now the price is around $200.

The phone has a devoted but narrow audience; the company does not see a need to launch more Symbian phones until the audience grows, according to officials at Ericsson, which recently launched a joint alliance with Sony Corp. to run Ericssons handset business.

Nokia and Ericsson do seem to agree, though, on the future of multimedia messaging.

Nokia late last month introduced an MMS (multimedia messaging service) phone with a built-in camera, the idea being that users can capture images and then send them over the airwaves along with text messaging. The Nokia 7650 also includes a built-in photo album, a 176-by-208-pixel color display and a joystick for navigation. The phone supports GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) 900 and 1800 networks and will run on General Packet Radio Service. Initially, it is available solely in Europe.

Also on the MMS front, Symbian and Beatnik Inc. last week announced plans to create multimedia entertainment services for wireless networks using Beatniks Audio Engine over Symbian.

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