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Nokia veteran leads MeeGo and Symbian fight

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A 19-year Nokia veteran will lead the mobile giant's open-source smartphone fight against Apple and Google.

Marketing chief Anssi Vanjoki will head Nokia's newly created mobile solutions group beginning in July, Nokia said on Tuesday. The new group's remit is to research, develop, and build devices using the joint MeeGo mobile Linux effort with Intel and smartphones based on Symbian, the open-source platform that's been somewhat tangential to Nokia until now.

Vanjoki's group will continue to develop Ovi as a service for MeeGo devices and Symbian phones, and it will lead development and deployment of news services on Nokia phones.

Nokia's bio of Vanjoki describes him as a visionary whose work "focused on developing the Nokia brand and positioning the company as the worlds of mobility, computing and the internet have converged".

The elevation of open-source on phones and devices followed the reorganization of Nokia's devices and services business. Under that re-org, a mobile phones unit will build "feature rich" phones and use the S40, while a separate marketing group will lead supply chain, sales, and - yes - marketing. In an interesting footnote, Sun Microsystems' former executive vice president of software Rich Green was named chief technology officer reporting to Vanjoki.

Green, who led Sun's Java and middleware, was cut by Sun following one final re-org designed to stave off the company's inevitable death. At Nokia, Green will be responsible for driving common technical architectures across the company, Nokia said.

The re-organization of Nokia's devices and services business comes as Apple and Android continue to challenge the incumbent for users and developers.

Nokia remains the world's largest handset maker with 39.1 per cent of the worldwide smart phone market, but Apple has carved out 16.1 per cent in less than three years, according to IDC. Apple has grown at the expense of RIM, but Nokia can't afford complacency.

Symbian has remained strangely outside Nokia's corporate epicenter despite the latter's swashbuckling buy-out of co-owners in 2008 and subsequent open sourcing of its code. And while Symbian talks of attracting developers, those developers are building applications for the iPhone or Android instead.

As for Android, signs are that it's gaining momentum: Google's mobile OS moved past the iPhone to grab the number two spot in the US for the first quarter of this year, according to NPD. Android accounted for 28 per cent of smartphones sold, compared with 21 per cent for the iPhone. RIM's BlackBerry was still top with 36 per cent. ®

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