Nokia Is in the Personal 'Computer' Business

A Nokia official says smart phones are every bit as capable as personal computers and are more "personal" than any PC has ever been. Smart phones are also the device users are most likely to use to access the Internet. With smart phones like these, who needs a computer?

LONDON-Nokia is in the personal computer business and don't you forget it.

Kai Oistamo, executive vice president of devices at Nokia gave a keynote at the Symbian Smartphone Show here on Oct. 22 titled "The Future of Computers." It was originally titled "The Future of Smart Phones," but Oistamo said he changed it because "it is time to recognize that what we have in our hands today are not smart phones but full-fledged computers."

Indeed, "With the processing power, onboard memory and broadband access" that phones today possess, "mobile phones have entered the day when they are really personal computers-much more personal than a PC has ever been," Oistamo said.

Moreover, Oistamo said mobile phones are becoming the main source for consuming media as well as creating media on the Internet.

"This is the hot spot for innovation and Nokia has been the pioneer of creating these kinds of devices," Oistamo said. "We're at the heart of the Internet revolution."

Meanwhile, social networking is driving new communications, and Web behavior and mobile phones are a key way to participate in the conversation, Oistamo said.

"Context is creating the next-generation Web," he said. And context is at the heart of Nokia's strategy, where the company is delivering services in several areas, including navigation, media and content, gaming, consumer messaging, and music.

Oistamo said Nokia has interviewed more than 100,000 consumers around the world for 90 minutes each to find out what consumers want. And the company gathered 12 billion data points on what users are looking for and distill that into 13 segments or categories of users or customers.

"What we are seeing is that people are moving to get more involved and more -aspirational,' and are prepared to try out new services," Oistamo said.

"And you have to be able to access your digital content with whatever you have available-PC, phone, browser," he said.

The future of the smart phone will be one of limitless processing power, broadband services, all kinds of sensors, "and you can start overlaying your digital world with your physical world," Oistamo said. For instance, you might be able to simply go by Madison Square Garden in New York and point your device at it and learn who is playing and when, what types of tickets are available and purchase some if you would like, he said.

But what will enable that is innovation, which comes from the Nokia S60 software platform along with the Symbian OS, Oistamo said. Nokia is in the process of acquiring Symbian, open-sourcing its software and pushing it out through a consortium called the Symbian Foundation.

The idea behind the foundation is to grow the market for Symbian-based devices.

"Nokia welcomes all innovation and blocks no one, even if they have services that compete with ours," Oistamo said. "Let's create a bigger pie together, rather than a smaller pie and fight over it."

For instance, as evidence of Nokia's willingness to open up, one partner provides software that can change the icons on an S60 device to those of an Apple iPhone. Oistamo suggests the opposite would be very unlikely.

Holding up a smart phone, Oistamo said: "These things are computers, and on computers it is about the wealth of applications."

That is why Oistamo said he believes the Symbian Foundation has a chance to have a broad impact on the industry.

"This is the biggest open-source initiative and the who's who in this industry. It is the ultimate open community," Oistamo said. "I believe it will make S60 the world's leading mobile platform and the world's leading Internet platform."