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Nokia says no plan to switch phones to Linux

What is a mobile phone, exactly?

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Despite reports to the contrary, Nokia is not embracing Linux as a platform for its mobile phones. The Finnish giant insists that comments reported by Reuters and others were quoted out of context and that nothing has changed.

Speculation started when comments from Rick Simonson, Nokia's Financial Director, that the mobile phone giant was "well on the way" towards using Linux on mobile phones, and prompted speculation about a tie-up with Google's Android platform.

Except, says Nokia, it has no such plan. The confusion comes from the definition of a mobile phone, and what constitutes a phone handset. Nokia already uses Linux on its internet tablet class of devices, exemplified by the Nokia N810, and is planning to expand that class into more feature-rich devices.

The N810 already features VoIP, including a Skype client, but so far those have only been usable when logged on to a Wi-Fi hotspot. But in the US Nokia has announced and demonstrated a version of the N810 with WiMAX support, which will give it the always-on connectivity that traditionally defines a mobile phone.

So here is a handset, from Nokia, which can make and receive calls as long as it remains within a WiMAX network which is intended to be ubiquitous, eventually. So can one say Nokia are planning to release mobile phones based on Linux?

This kind of confusion is only going to get worse, as more classes of device come into existence, and more of them feature constant connectivity - the only conclusion one can draw from this is that Nokia doesn't think Symbian is suitable for internet tablet devices. ®

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