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Symbian channels iPhone love into Android scrap

Of rubber ducks and bar-room seduction

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iPhone bubble bursting

Williams thinks - or hopes - the iPhone and AppStore bubble has burst for developers. In particular, Williams reckoned the AppStore's become harder to navigate while Apple's application policy is as arbitrary as ever, all of which leads Williams to hope that developers will finally rebel against paying Apple 30 per cent of their applications revenue - or, "taxation without representation."

He looks forward to a mythical group of four developers in a garage somewhere building their own, better AppStore and offering it through Horizon on a variety of form phones. Horizon is the application warehouse and developer program from Symbian still looking for a business model.

"Apple will remain a very strong segment player and will once again lead with useful ideas - it shipped the first display only phone, never mind touch. But that is not the mass appeal mobile market place, and most developers want to access that mass market place," Williams said.

But how to excite developers who still remain very much in awe of the iPhone? Symbian has all the excitement of Windows Mobile, something Microsoft's even recognized now needs a make over to attract developers and more consumers.

Williams promised more rubber-duck style antics to poach iPhone developers and promote meet ups that raise awareness about his group's mobile operating system, and the ecosystem of handset makes and devices using it. The ecosystem consists of OEMs, service providers and some 70 handset form factors serving a range of international markets and - dare we say it - phones more affordable than the iPhone.

Such are the tactics Symbian must employ to galvanize a mobile development community that's been won over by Apple's iPhone and is already starting to exhibit the same kinds of early interest in Google's Android that helped established the iPhone.

Telco talking shop

Symbian might have OEM and telco buy in from Samsung, Sony Ericsson, and Nokia plus AT&T, Vodafone, NTT DOCOMO and silicon providers like Texas Instruments, but this looks like a classic telco consortium of old. They still need the apps, and the apps come from the developers - individuals who aren't members and who still like the iPhone and are tempted by Android.

The shine will wear off Apple while stage is now set for Google. Unlike Apple, Google doesn't control the hardware - a plus for Symbian - but it's open-source, which puts them on a level playing field.

Williams admitted we're all in "wait and see mode" to see how the Google fragmentation story plays out and whether developers or just Google makes any money from Android.

While the jury remains out Symbian must move fast and line up not just a small army of Taiwanese silicon makers around its open-sourced kernel but also developers against its rival. ®

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