Symbian's dead, and MeeGo won't cure ailing Nokia

Not-so-smartphone vendor Nokia must swallow pride -- and medicine -- and embrace Android or even Windows Phone 7

If the mobile market were a hospital, Nokia would be in the ICU right now, a stubborn patient insisting for too long that leeches were the best cure for its ailments when modern, sensible solutions were available. The company finally appears to admit, "OK, the leeches might not be working." Despite weakening signs of life, Nokia is holding out for a cure that likely won't come quickly enough or be potent enough to save it.

According to reports, the Symbian Foundation is on the road to closure, and Nokia has canceled the separate Symbian 4 and 3 OSes. (Symbian 3 made it onto a couple of phones, but no one really noticed or cared.) These are the latest and clearest signals that the Finnish company is giving up on Symbian in favor of a future and none-too-promising platform called MeeGo.

Nokia was among the three top contributors to the Symbian Foundation, along with Samsung and Sony Ericsson. The nonprofit group's goal was to groom a viable smartphone platform capable of taking on rising stars iOS and Android, but that effort has been a failure. Symbian has slumped in the mobile market, and the Symbian Foundation is reportedly on its last legs.

Unfortunately for Nokia, the company left all of its eggs to rot for too long in the Symbian basket, refusing to follow the example of rivals such as fellow contributors Samsung and Sony Ericsson, which have rolled out devices running Android and have plans -- for better or worse -- to crank out devices sporting Windows Phone 7.

Rather than taking a sensible approach and adopting platforms that have some clout and are available now, Nokia now appears to be betting everything on MeeGo, which could more aptly be dubbed NoGo. As noted by InfoWorld mobile maven Galen Gruman, MeeGo is a mishmash of two Linux-like platforms, Moblin and Maemo, that made almost no headway after several years. Not only is the prospect of MeeGo uninspiring, it won't be available in its first iteration until some unknown point in 2011. Heck, by then, Windows Phone 7 may already have copy-and-paste capabilities.

If Nokia wants to retain any semblance of respectability in the smartphone market (as opposed to the cheap throwaway phone market), it needs to come to its senses or swallow its pride, whichever turns out to be the root cause. From there, it must open up to adopting one or more third-party platforms that are not just usable but also available.

This article, "Symbian's dead, and MeeGo won't cure ailing Nokia," was originally published at Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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