Feeds

Nokia makes the mobile 'a full member of the internet'

Adopts PC techniques for smartphone

The Power of One Infographic

Nokia may be the most unlikely convert to the open internet model, but it is becoming one of the most enthusiastic.

Fresh from placing key aspects of its Series 60 software architecture, including the all-important mobile browser, into the open source process, it has now ported the Linux-based Apache web server, which powers many of the world's websites, to its Symbian Series 60 platform.

The Finnish giant claims this makes "the mobile phone a full member of the internet" – a statement of considerable significance, showing how far Nokia is reaching beyond its traditional world of cellcos, where open access to the net from the phone is proving ruinous to the business model.

Nokia spotted earlier than any of its rivals that the walled gardens of the cellular operators would not stay intact for long, especially in the market it is targeting most aggressively, the mobile enterprise.

For its next generation high end devices – which the company now refuses to refer to any longer as "cellphones" – to compete with notebooks and become the norm for business access, they needed to offer an internet experience as unfettered, simple and user friendly as that of the PC. This meant adopting, or improving on, the key aspects of that platform – simple user interface, choice of radio links to support the fastest and cheapest connections, IP support, unrestricted web access, and increasingly, open source software options.

As Palmsource has been doing, but on a grander scale, Nokia is melding its own operating systems with enhanced browsers and interfaces and the world of Linux, to create products that should take it into new customer bases beyond the traditional mobile operators.

First came the successful 770 tablet, Nokia's first device in recent history with no cellular radio (though with Wi-Fi and VoIP). Then it worked with Apple to develop a mobile browser to improve on the notoriously poor web experience of most mobile phones, and now it has put that browser and other Series 60 elements into open source, and announced its support for Apache.

The new version of Apache has been released via the open source developers site, Sourceforge. Net, and a PC-based gateway is also on offer. It includes a version of the popular programming language Python and supports dynamic DNS service.

Making such a strong commitment to the cellphone as an internet device also suggests that Nokia will intensify its interest in Wi-Fi and, potentially, WiMAX, since these connections currently support far faster and more effective internet operations than the cellular networks.

At a current 384Kbps on the uplink, HSDPA cannot support serious internet functions such as self-hosting and web serving, and the Apache product would sit better with a Linux/Wi-Fi mobile device than a traditional phone.

The move also seems to raise a key issue for Nokia – how far the Symbian OS, which it has long championed as the key next generation smartphone system, fits into its new strategy, geared not just to phones but to the emerging ideas of "the internet of things".

Symbian is highly tuned for mobile phones, but not necessarily for a wide variety of "things" that might be used as internet devices. In this scenario, Linux is a more logical choice, and Nokia has already made key moves to support the open source OS it once shunned for the compromises it enforces on the cellphone platform.

Also, while Symbian was once seen as a key defense against Microsoft's assault on the smartphone sector with Windows Mobile, that battle is now mainly fought at higher software layers – with mobile Java, as well as more specialised software environments like Series 60, more important than the OS itself.

Symbian could be placed into open source itself, with the agreement of its various owners – among which Nokia has by far the dominant share of the OS – but this would be a complex and political process akin to the tortuous opening up of Java by Sun.

Once Nokia looks beyond the confines of the conventional cellphone, there is far more momentum behind Linux in terms of broad platform support – from PCs to consumer devices – developer interest and real openness, making it the most likely alternative to Windows as a universal system spanning the whole range of portable wireless devices that will emerge in the coming years for business and leisure.

Copyright © 2006, Wireless Watch

Wireless Watch is published by Rethink Research, a London-based IT publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter delivers in-depth analysis and market research of mobile and wireless for business. Subscription details are here.

The Power of One Infographic

More from The Register

next story
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
Microsoft unsheathes cheap Android-killer: Behold, the Lumia 530
Say it with us: I'm King of the Landfill-ill-ill-ill
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
All those new '5G standards'? Here's the science they rely on
Radio professor tells us how wireless will get faster in the real world
Apple orders huge MOUNTAIN of 80 MILLION 'Air' iPhone 6s
Bigger, harder trouser bulges foretold for fanbois
Oh girl, you jus' didn't: Level 3 slaps Verizon in Netflix throttle blowup
Just hook us up to more 10Gbps ports, backbone biz yells in tit-for-tat spat
GoTenna: How does this 'magic' work?
An ideal product if you believe the Earth is flat
Telstra to KILL 2G network by end of 2016
GSM now stands for Grave-Seeking-Mobile network
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.