Rumours circulating the UK investment community suggest that Siemens is close to announcing a Symbian smartphone based on Nokia’s Series 60 interface.
Siemens became a Symbian licensee in February 2001 and a shareholder in the company earlier this year, acquiring a 5% stake for EUR 22.8m. Leaked pictures of the Siemens S55 show a device similar to Nokia’s 7650, with an integrated digital camera, colour screen and sliding keypad. According to reports, it will have Java, MMS, e-mail and web browsing capabilities. Siemens licensed Nokia’s Series 60 Symbian interface platform, the same technology which is used in the 7650, earlier this year, but did not provide an anticipated release date for products.
Symbian CEO David Levin said in April that the company was working on unspecified projects with several manufacturers which could result in handset releases from Q4 2002 onwards.
The pictures which support this rumour are low resolution and grainy, making it virtually impossible to discern their authenticity. However, with the announcement of the Series 60 licensing agreement earlier this year and Siemens’ obvious need to update its handset portfolio with the latest imaging, messaging and mobile applications technology make it high likely. Siemens has already emphasised its commitment to the Symbian platform by investing in the company in April 2002.
It will be interesting to see how Siemens differentiates its handset from the Nokia product. Siemens has a strong industrial design team under recognised guru Ulrich Skrypalle and one would expect to see some innovative use of materials and styling. Series 60 also allows for extensive customisation of the software interface and Siemens is sure to add some custom applications.
The real winners when this reaches the market will be the growing number of third party Symbian OS developers. Standardisation on Series 60 by Nokia, Siemens and Matsushita will provide a large installed base for developers to market their applications to and reduce development expenses by ensuring compatibility across a range of devices.
The question is whether Siemens will now look to Nokia to supply technology for its 3G handsets and abandon its agreement with Motorola to use the i.300 platform and a rebadged version of Motorola’s A820 W-CDMA handset. Since Motorola has said that it plans a Symbian version of the A820, it seems Symbian will benefit regardless.
Originally published by PMN Mobile Industry Intelligence, the subscription-based analysis and insight platform founded by Marek Pawlowski.