Symbian CEO Says Collaboration With Google Is Possible

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Broader collaboration between Symbian and Google at either the application or operating system level is possible in the future, Symbian's CEO said Wednesday.

"We have a good relationship with Google," Nigel Clifford said at a Tokyo news conference."In fact Symbian was one of the first mobile platforms to put their applications such as Google search and maps," he said as he showed his mobile phone.

Google is about to compete head-to-head with Symbian in the cell phone space with the launch of its Android platform and Symbian is reorganizing to meet that challenge.

Last month Nokia, which holds a major stake in Symbian, said it plans to acquire all the shares in Symbian and turn it over to the Symbian Foundation, a new group backed by several companies in the mobile phone business. As part of the move the three platforms that run on Symbian -- S60, UIQ and MOAP -- will be unified into a single open mobile platform.

"By making our software open, we're inviting more developers to play and learn on the Symbian platform, "he said."Anyone can join and that is the fundamental idea behind the foundation."

Clifford said that while the change may be viewed as a reaction to growing competition from open-source mobile software, Symbian is doing it to make life easier for application developers and phone manufacturers.

He also questioned Google's purpose in pursuing Android, when Symbian has already accomplished Android's goal: a platform that is proven in the market, fully open, and operates with a royalty-free license.

Google, however, is not the only competitor from the computer world that is trying to take a slice of the mobile phone market. Apple's successful entry into the market through its iPhone could also be a threat.

"Not all PC developers can transition to developing for mobile phones -- screen sizes are different plus there are limitations in power and memory", said Clifford. He added that crossing over into the specialized mobile phone market is not as easy as it looks.

Despite all the competition Clifford is certain that Symbian, with its new open and integrated platform, will win this battle. Its close ties to handset manufacturers, network companies and hardware is a competitive advantage, which the company hopes will help keep it at the top spot.

"The mobile phone software market is a complicated world and with the Symbian Foundation, we will win this," he said.

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