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Siemens' Symbian smartphone slips – sources

Series Sixty schedule on skids

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Siemens' much-anticipated Series 60 smartphone has been pushed back to November, according to reliable sources at the Siemens user board.

The phone was originally announced at Cannes in February, when shipment was promised by the first half of the year. The SX-1 certainly promised to pack a punch back then, sporting an FM radio and a gimmicky industrial design.

The progress of Series 60 licensees is watched with great interest in the industry. Series 60, which began life as Symbian's "Pearl" reference design (for the historians among you) is Nokia's attempt to "horizontalize" its business model: to do a Microsoft without Microsoft being involved, if you like.

Series 60 is a platform that Nokia licenses to all-comers, and so far the Finnish giant has signed up Samsung, Siemens and Sendo. But Nokia faces what's known as the 'Apple problem', which is. to put it crudely, how do you license material to your competitors without the competitors taking advantage. And equally, how can we trust you to license your crown jewels without the suspicion remaining that you've kept all the good bits for yourselves?

Palm tried to follow this tricky route, before being forced into the inevitable: you can't compete with your competitors. Palm now presents itself as a hardware division with a separate licensing software division.

Since Siemens announced the SX-1, Nokia has launched a mass-market Series 60 phone, the popular 3650 model which can currently be found on Amazon.com for free, if you take out a new contract. And in June Nokia announced its no-nonsense, mass market 6600 model which it hopes, and expects, will become the new base platform for its high end, taking the 'smart' out of 'smartphone'.

Nokia's Series 60 has certainly succeeded on one front since it was launched late in 2001: there's now a thriving mass market of developers creating some pretty compelling applications. On the other hand, is this platform seen to be 'independent', trustworthy and viable in the long-term?

The jury's still out on that one: and in this case, paradoxically, Nokia badly needs its competitors to succeed. ®

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