Device operating systems

Nokia Asks Anna to Save Symbian

Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) Tuesday took the wraps off the E6 and X7, its first two smartphones to feature an updated version of the Symbian Ltd. operating system, dubbed Symbian Anna. (See Nokia Adds Business Phones and Nokia Takes Back Symbian.)

Anna will begin shipping on the E6 and X7, built for the enterprise and entertainment buffs, respectively, in the second quarter. The E6 will come to North America in the third quarter. It will also make its way to other Nokia smartphones in the coming months.

Symbian's updates include new icons, a faster browsing experience and a refreshed Ovi Maps app. See how Nokia describes the software in the following video:

Symbian devices also helped Nokia's Ovi Store grow to 40,000 apps and 5 million downloads per day, a nearly eight-fold increase over the past year. Phones sporting the OS accounted for 15 percent of daily apps downloads, Nokia said.

Why this matters
Timing is everything for Nokia as it prepares to transition to Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)'s Windows Phone 7, while fulfilling its goal of shipping 150 million more Symbian phones. Nokia says WP7 devices won't be shipping in volume until 2012, so it's looking to Anna to hold on to its shriveling market share in the meantime.

But even Anna hasn't been the timeliest to arrive. Nokia first introduced the OS update three months ago. It then announced the new phones Tuesday in a press release it had teased for weeks in the guise of a launch event. Now, the phones won't actually come to market for a while, so it will be hard to keep any excitement up.

Analysts have suggested that Nokia's best bet is make Symbian the champion of the low end and position Microsoft for its more advanced smartphones. That may be its ultimate strategy, but the E6 and X7 will cost €340 (USD$490) and €380 (USD$548), respectively, so Nokia's not coming down yet. (See MWC 2011: How Will Nokia Maintain Market Share?)

In announcing the new handsets, the handset maker also struck a careful balance between maintaining its emphasis on Windows Phone and trying to convince people that Symbian lives on. Nokia quoted developers, like Mikael Hed, CEO of Angry Birds parent company Rovio, expressing their commitment to both platforms.

For more
Symbian began its decline long before Nokia announced it would make Windows Phone 7 its primary OS for future smartphones. Check out the following stories for how the mobile market dynamics have shifted out of Symbian's favor.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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