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Now, Nokia, what about the hardware?

Getting the OS right is only half of the story

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Comment If Symbian is Nokia's "burning platform", has the Finnish phone giant thrown itself into the frying pan to escape the fire?

There's undoubtedly something desperate in the move. Nokia is spending way too much money promoting a platform, Symbian, that is commanding less and less market share. Where once it led, now Nokia has been forced to follow, buying Symbian to bring home to the operating system's developers the commercial need to catch up with first Apple and then Google's Android.

Symbian has a colossal customer base, but, like Windows Mobile, it is a platform that feels like a relic from a previous era. Pace Ovi, the public's interest in downloadable apps hasn't helped Symbian's smartphone aspirations because Nokia's smartphones are just not perceived that as such.

Nokia's smartphones feel like an extension of its older, messaging-centric offerings, not a bright new platform for a bright new category of handset. Nokia began developing smartphones when they were premium products for businesspeople. Now they're increasingly mainstream products for consumers, and the old approach won't work for these new buyers.

In short, it needs a new approach - and a new platform. Nokia could completely re-skin Symbian as an entirely new entity, which might appeal to punters, but probably wouldn't have enthused third-party developers.

It still has MeeGo, but it too feels tarnished by an earnestness entirely unsuitable for a consumer offering.

Apple's not going to license iOS, and HP has already acquired Palm for WebOS. HP's WebOS announcements this week, taking in not only smartphones but tablets and even PCs too, shows just how much it understands that the consumerisation of information technology products requires new platforms.

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