Weekly Wrap - Symbian Shake-Up
By Carlo Longino, Fri Aug 29 13:30:00 GMT 2003

Motorola announces it's selling its stake in Symbian...the day after it announces a Symbian-powered 3G phone, London Games Week brings a slew of mobile-gaming optimism, and more...


The biggest news this week is undoubtedly Motorola's decision to sell off its share of the Symbian joint venture to Nokia and Psion. In a way, it's not a huge surprise, as the company is close to releasing a Microsoft-powered smartphone, and has already launched a Linux/Java device, so they may be pulling a Samsung and supporting multiple OS, choosing which to give the most support after some of the dust settles.

But the timing of their announcement was a little strange, as just the day before, Moto officially released details of their Symbian-powered 3G phone, the A920, for 3 in Italy and the UK.

Nokia also announced a number of devices this week, showing its intent on locking down markets developing nations. The 1100 and 2300 are low-end models, the 1100 a bare-bones model, with the 2300 offering a more unique design and a few more features, including anti-SMS spam software. Nokia also released the 2280, a CDMA 1x model designed specifically for China Unicom, its frsit CDMA model in that country.

There was another announcement by Nokia this week that was less reported and potentially more interesting, as the company took the wraps off its low-cost Nokia GSM Connect network product. The company says that the GSM Connect system can offer basic GSM telephony at half the capital and operating expenditure of traditional mobile networks, allowing carriers to see profits from ARPUs as low as USD 5 per month. This could change the dynamics of the mobile industry -- and give it a huge boost -- in developing nations, something Nokia is aware of, as they push to double the number of global mobile users to 2 billion.

But they won't be alone in trying to tap those developing nations, as China's leading mobile-phone manufacturer, Bird, said this week it will begin selling handsets in India.

In the wake of the blackout a couple of weeks back that hit the northeastern US and parts of Canada, US Senator Chuck Schumer of New York is calling for increased regulation of the US mobile-phone industry, urging the FCC to mandate back-up power systems and increased capacity so cellular systems don't "fail" during NYC's next disaster. TheFeature contributor Douglas Rushkoff weighed in on the mobile fallout from the blackout this week, with some users commenting that the market might dictate this functionality before the regulators do.

Rushkoff also made a couple of other interesting posts this week, talking about how mobile devices are shaping our interaction with each other. He saw the media darling of US presidential candidate Howard Dean, and wondered how mobile technology was changing the voice of protest, and in another entry, observing that today's youth aren't always blinded by technology.

This week was also London Games Week, a mix of trade and public events devoted to video games, and mobile gaming was a hot topic. First, one industry consultant said mobile gaming would be a billion-dollar business next year, driven by success in Asia and the spread of new handsets capable of running compelling games. There's also a lot of interest in TV video games controlled by players via SMS, some of which are already going in Finland and the Phillippines.