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Nokia prepares to fiddle with Symbian

To boldly go where no smartphone, etc etc

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MWC Nokia boss Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo livened up an otherwise by the numbers Mobile World Congress Keynote today with a declaration that we’d see a wide range of Symbian devices which are not phones.

“We plan to broaden the definition of the smartphone, to expand them into categories and form factors that have not yet been explored,” Kallasvuo declared. This might be from set-top boxes (Nokia already makes them) to Mobile Internet Devices. A Nokia netbook has been rumoured, but he didn’t give any details.

Nokia’s model is one of making its mobile devices internet capable rather than making internet devices, like computers and mobile. They will want 24/7 battery life.

OPK also talked about bringing mobile computing to the masses, saying “Mobile computing should not be isolated on high end, expensive devices”. Without expanding he said: “One size definitely does not fit all. We will broaden the range to fit all sizes and pockets." A hint at Linux in the low end?

The only breaks from the tedium of a keynote where OPK, Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer and Ralph de la Vega (head of AT&T mobile) were hosted by the Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg, were when Ralph de la Vega outed a Dell phone, and OPK said Symbian is the industry’s only truly open and mature platform – a swipe at Apple, Microsoft and Android all in one sentence. But he went on to ruin it by saying the Symbian Foundation is “reinventing the game to make it truly open at the time when the smartphone market is coming into its own”. The smartphone has been “coming into its own” for at least five years.

Mossberg managed to irritate OPK by calling Nokia a hardware company, but was dealt a similar blow himself by audience member John Strand, who asked why a bunch of Americans were lecturing Europeans on mobile phones and treating the iPhone, with its tiny installed base, as being significant. ®

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