Nokia issued a statement through various press outlets denying the rumor that it's planning a smartphone based on Google's Android mobile operating system. However, that doesn't mean it doesn't have other plans for Android.
Clearly Nokia responded to this report, rather than ignoring it entirely, because the rumor seemed realistic on the face of it. Nokia has shown itself more than a little inconstant -- cf its recent R&D deal with Intel, after having acquired full rights to the Symbian operating system only last June -- and has been hemorrhaging smartphone market share to the iPhone. Making matters more pressing:
users of the iPhone have already downloaded over a billion applications in just nine months and Android has attracted a host of developers offering their "widgets", or applications, to consumers through the Android Marketplace.Having a well-stocked app store and a significant developer community to add to it is more important to the success of a smartphone than the features of the device itself, so Nokia can't be blamed for pinning its market share losses on Symbian's failure to catch fire with developers and customers.
But maybe Nokia is looking further down the road, past smartphones to netbooks, an area it knows Apple is eyeballing as well (vociferous denials notwithstanding). As for Nokia's own denial, Nokia hasn't actually issued a press release, instead giving several news organizations a statement that
There is no truth to this story whatsoever. It is a well known fact that Symbian is our platform of choice for smartphones.Platform of choice... for smartphones.
Ajit Jaokar, who chairs an online mobile applications panel for Oxford University, noted in an email that "the market has shifted away from phones" to netbooks, while Symbian -- Nokia's stated operating system of choice -- "does not do netbooks."
As I noted earlier, Nokia recently joined forces with Intel to
define a new mobile platform beyond today's smartphones, notebooks and netbooks, enabling the development of a variety of innovative hardware, software and mobile Internet services.Given that the two companies now support at least four operating systems -- Moblin, Maemo, LiMo, and Symbian -- between them, there's no reason to believe that Nokia won't experiment with a fifth.