Nokia exec: No plans to bring Symbian back in-house

A senior Nokia (NYSE:NOK) executive said the handset maker does not plan to bring the Symbian platform back under its roof. The comments come amid mounting speculation that the open source platform is faltering.

Niklas Savander, Nokia's executive vice president and general manager for markets, Niklas Savander, Nokia's executive vice president and general manager for markets, told CNet in an interview that Nokia wouldn't bring Symbian in-house, despite Sony Ericsson and Samsung announcing they will no longer use the platform. Nokia set up the Symbian Foundation in 2008 to freely share Symbian's source code with other handset vendors.

"I don't see any reason for that. What would be the benefit of doing that?" Savander said of bringing Symbian in-house. "We have made it open source, so it's, of course, up to the different users whether they want to use it. The whole notion behind the open-source community is that people can choose to leave or not to leave."

Citing sources close to the non-profit group, The Register reported Symbian's Tim Holbrow--who was named executive director last week following the sudden resignation of longtime head Lee Williams--has been asked to wind down the Symbian Foundation's operations over the next six months.

Nokia has staked much of its smartphone future on Symbian, and in a wide-ranging interview, Savander said that Symbian eventually will migrate to the mid-range of Nokia's handsets, and that MeeGo will be reserved for the high end. He said Nokia is currently exploring putting MeeGo--the open source platform Nokia jointly developed with Intel--into different form factors than just smartphones.

Savander's comments come on the heels of Nokia's announcement that it will cut 1,800 jobs--close to 3 percent of its workforce--from its Symbian services, research and development and corporate functions. The action is a result of Nokia combining development efforts for its Symbian^3 and Symbian^4 platforms.

The decision was the first major strategic change made by Nokia's new CEO, Stephen Elop--and Savander said it will not be the last.

Savander said Nokia will no longer announce devices months ahead of their expected commercial availability. "So during 2011, you will see us announce MeeGo products, and they will be very close to shipment dates. When we announce it, it's going to come. It's a different philosophy, which is driven partly by our new CEO, who wants to get us into this mode of not talking about the products until they are ready."

Nokia was criticized for announcing the N8, its flagship Symbian smartphone, months before it was actually released to customers. 

For more:
- see this CNet article

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