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Nokia to Google: Welcome to the Mobile Market! (P.S. We're Not Afraid of You)

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Nokia and Google
Left out of the Open Handset Alliance, Nokia nevertheless extended a warm welcome to Google's new Android open source platform on Monday. After years of hype surrounding the mobile internet, as well as the subsequent struggles by handset makers and carriers to realize (or, in some cases, thwart) that vision, Nokia cast Google's entry into the market on Monday as further evidence that the day of the so-called 'mobile computer' has arrived.

"It's great to see a new comer to the market," said Bill Plummer, Nokia's head of multimedia for North America. "Google's entry to the space is also a validation of our own vision of a truly open market. That's good too," Plummer continued.

As much as you'd expect from a company that shipped 112 million handsets alone during Q3, Nokia didn't seem all that worried about future competition with Google's ambitious mobile OS. And despite championing openness, Nokia's Symbian OS looks to be substantially different from Google's Linux-based Android.

Symbian provides phone manufacturers and other partners with certain parts of its source code and the APIs are also publicly documented. But that's still different from Google's approach. As COMPILER's Mike Calore notes, "if you can't compile it, it's not open source."

Nevertheless, Nokia still touts the OS's relative openness. David Wood, Symbian's executive vice president, previously said that the one of the key ideas behind the advent of the mobile OS was to encourage developers to build software for Symbian phones in the same way that had driven the sales of PCs. To one extent or another, that idea seems to have grown legs, as Nokia now has a developer community "well into the millions," according to Plumber.

"The idea was that third-party writers would create applications that could be guaranteed on all the phones produced for this operating system -- regardless of which manufacturer had created it," Wood told Industry & Business News in back 2003.

"For us, openness is also about choice," Plummer said. Despite Nokia having 40 million S60-based smart phones on the market in 2006, he maintains the mobile industry is a scalable business. "A competitive business, sure. But there's plenty of room for new players."

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