Nokia is at a juncture between Symbian, which it had relied upon for years, and rolling out its MeeGo operating system, which will better position the world’s leading phone maker against stiff smartphone rivals from Android, iOS, webOS, and Windows Phone 7. To accomplish this, Nokia CTO Rich Green told developers at a QT summit that the company will be relying on applications to drive growth and that the company will try to eliminate fragmentation.
The importance of apps has been studied all too well. It was Apple’s claim to success when the company had introduced third-party apps to its App Store and Microsoft has been wise in courting developers to creating compelling apps for its Windows Phone 7, which is slated to launch on November 8th in the U.S. According to Green, apps help keep users interested in a platform after the novelty of a new phone wears off. The company’s role and challenge, then, is to provide a “large and homogenous user base,” according to a summary from Ars Technica.
Green notes that despite having such a large user base for Symbian, a homogenous user base was not achieved and the platform is fragmented. To overcome this, the company will be relying on Qt as a development tool, and Nokia is promising developers backwards and forwards compatibility in the Symbian ecosystem as well as compatibility with the forthcoming MeeGo OS release, which was built with a partnership with Intel. By utilizing Qt, Nokia is telling developers that development time will be saved as developers can target both Symbian and MeeGo platforms with little added work.
We’ll have to see how Nokia’s strong push will affect the company’s stakes in the highly competitive smartphone war. In the U.S., where Nokia has little market presence, the company still has a lot of work to do to drive interest and build momentum. In an interview with GigaOm, U.S. carrier T-Mobile says of Nokia, “Nokia and RIM have had a great history. They need to step up and make sure they’re going to be offering a great experience going forward, too” Perhaps, part of that stepping up is courting developers and making sure that MeeGo launches with a healthy ecosystem of apps.