As I pointed out a few months ago, Nokia already builds a device that runs Android. The Nokia 810N Tablet is the latest Android favorite hacking device because it has a lot of great features (GPS, Wifi, QWERTY, etc) and can be had at Amazon for around $200.
But rumors are starting to swirl that Nokia could step it up a notch. The Guardian this weekend said that Nokia was going to build a Android device from the ground up. They even said that a Nokia Android device would be shown at the Nokia World conference in September.
The new touchscreen device will be unveiled at the Nokia World conference in September, say industry insiders, as the Finnish handset giant tries to revive its fortunes in the smartphone market.
The world's biggest handset maker, which has fallen behind in the smartphone game snapped up Symbian last year and turned it ito a free foundation. Symbian is the OS behind Nokia's phones as well as phones by competitors like Sony Ericsson, LG, Samsung and Motorola. However, most of Nokia's competitors have illustrated interest in Android and are looking to join the excitement behind the new OS.
Nokia building Android devices would be a huge blow to Symbian developers, however.
Nokia quickly hit the brakes on that idea, at least publicly. From Rueters:
"Absolutely no truth to this whatsoever," said a Nokia spokesman.
Google's Android is a rival to Nokia's Symbian software.
"Everyone knows that Symbian is our preferred platform for advanced mobile devices."
In reality, Nokia would be foolish to not at least investigate the idea of Android. When Palm realized its OS was not up to snuff a few years ago, they went to Windows Mobile on their Treos. While not a fantastic product, that move probably bought them enough time to go to develop the WebOS. Perhaps Nokia can put out some Android phones until Symbian stops hemorrhaging marketshare...or at least they can justify the move as such.
Nokia had 47% of the global smartphone market in 2007, 35% last summer and 31% at the end of this year according to analysts at HSBC. Smartphones are the only sector of the mobile handset market that continue to grow during the current ecconomic downturn.
If Nokia is to stay relevant in this extremely competitive space, they are going to have to make some unorthodox moves...like licensing Android.