Nokia pushes ahead with Symbian, but uncertainty remains
Nokia (NYSE:NOK) touted its commitment to the Symbian platform with two new smartphone announcements and a software refresh, even as it braces for a market share decline as its shifts to Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone 7 as its primary smartphone platform.
The Finnish firm unveiled two new Symbian smartphones, the E6 designed for business customers and the X7 geared for entertainment and gaming. Nokia also announced a long-awaited software update for its Symbian platform, dubbed Anna.
The update comes with a handful of new bells and whistles for Symbian, including new icons, improved text input (such as a virtual Qwerty keyboard in portrait mode), a faster browsing experience and a refreshed Ovi Maps application with improved search and new public transport routes. The Anna update also brings a new set of features aimed at business users, including enterprise-grade security with hardware accelerated encryption.
Nokia said the update will be available in the coming months on new shipments of its N8, E7, C7 and C6-01 devices, and will be available for download on those devices that customers have already purchased. Many of the elements of the update are already available on the Nokia Astound, which T-Mobile USA just started shipping.
Despite the focus on Symbian, Nokia also is looking forward to the future, and has acknowledged that its transition to Windows Phone 7 will not be entirely smooth. Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android platform is expected to capture 38.5 percent of the global smartphone market by year-end, according to research firm Gartner, compared with 19.2 percent for Symbian.
Nokia Chairman Jorma Ollila told the Financial Times that the company's board has "discussed explicitly that there would be an expected lower market share in the meantime with the opportunity then to pick up and build on the new concept." He also said that Nokia has linked management incentives to public and private commercial milestones to ensure that Nokia is "very much geared to win."
Meanwhile, many Nokia workers are bracing for job cuts as a result of the transition. As many as 6,000 research and development jobs could be cut, Antti Rinne of Pro, Finland's biggest private-sector office-worker union, told Bloomberg. Nokia declined to comment on the numbers, according to Bloomberg.
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