Nokia CEO: Symbian Not Going Anywhere

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Nokia's CEO on Wednesday said that Nokia will keep Symbian mobile OS as its dominant platform for the foreseeable future. Chief Executive Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo made the comments at Nokia's Capital Markets Day in Helsinki in an apparent attempt to head off rumors that Nokia would abandon Symbian in favor of a new OS, Maemo.

Various reports in mid-November stated that Nokia executives had told attendees at a marketing event in London that Nokia would be dropping Symbian from N-series Nokia phones by 2012. Nokia released a statement at the time saying that any speculation on its 2012 roadmap was "premature," but the response did little to quell rumors that Symbian was on the way out, and Maemo was the Nokia mobile OS of the future.

But as reported by The Wall Street Journal and other news sources from Nokia's event Wednesday, Kallasvuo said that Maemo would likely be used on high-end Nokia devices only. Not only will Symbian not be going away, he added, but also a new version of Symbian with an improved user interface will be released in 2010.

"In 2010, we will drive user experience improvements, and the progress we make will take the Symbian user interface to a new level," said Kallasvuo, according to prepared remarks posted in a statement to Nokia's Web site. "As an operating system, Symbian has reach and flexibility like no other platform, and we have measures in place to push smartphones down to new price points globally, while growing margins. I see great opportunity for Nokia to capture new growth in our industry, by creating what we expect to be the world's biggest platform for services on the mobile."

Kallasvuo and other Nokia executives also used the Capital Markets Day to touch on various Nokia targets and sales forecasts. According to a Nokia statement summarizing the predictions, Nokia expects mobile industry volumes to increase by 10 percent, year over year, from 2009 to 2010, and predicts that Nokia's own mobile device volume market share -- it's currently the world leader in handsets -- to be flat in 2010 compared to 2009.

Nokia also said it expects lower average selling price (ASP) of its mobile devices next year, and expects its joint venture with Siemens, Nokia Siemens Networks, to grow faster than the market average in 2010. Further, Nokia expects not only a Symbian upgrade but "another major product milestone before the end of 2010," as well as stronger ties to the app development community "with better tools to create applications and content for our Ovi ecosystem."

Despite its position as the number one market share holder in mobile phones worldwide, Nokia has had a hard time cracking the North American market. The company's once-hyped Ovi Store -- an app store designed to rival the popularity of Apple's App Store and other mobile app communities -- stumbled out of the gate earlier this year, with a number of glitches. The Ovi Store has still not launched in the U.S., though rumors persist that AT&T and Nokia will launch an Ovi Store as a co-branded portal.

Nokia recently released a new smartphone, the X6, which is available in Finland and the U.K. but has not yet received a U.S. launch date.

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