When Motorola announced plans to sell its shares of Symbian in August, Nokia and Psion bid for a split of the shares. If the deal goes through (it was still pending at press time), Nokia would become the leading shareholder in Symbian with 32 percent, while Psion would own 31 percent. Some analysts fear Motorola’s pull out could mean the eventual dissolution of Symbian. While Motorola still plans to support Symbian’s mobile OS, Motorola has made statements indicating that it sees Mobile Java, Java 2 Micro Edition (J2ME), as its primary market choice. And Motorola has been busy building new partnerships while releasing two new phones, one with a Linux OS, the other with Microsoft’s new mobile OS.
Motorola has released the first Linux smartphone, the A760. The device “demonstrates the company’s commitment to making the Linux operating system a key pillar of its handset software strategy,” according to a source at Motorola. The A760 combines a phone, a PDA, a digital camera with video and an MP3 player. It was first launched in Asia and is scheduled to be available in Europe starting in 2004. No announcements have been made about U.S. shipments.
Continuing to delve into other operating systems, Motorola has launched the first Windows-powered mobile phone in the U.S. market. The MPx200 (pictured) is offered through AT&T Wireless in the U.S. and Orange in Europe. Microsoft’s previous attempts to advance its mobile operating systems have not been well received. Until now Orange was the only carrier offering a Microsoft Smartphone device. The MPx200 doesn’t include a camera or Bluetooth, and the phone doesn’t run Microsoft’s latest SmartPhone 2003 OS, but a tweaked version of the 2002 edition. Microsoft promises it will run smoothly with Outlook.
Some industry analysts are starting to raise questions about how Microsoft’s inevitable move into the handset space might affect competitors. Microsoft’s history of dominating any playing field it enters could spell trouble for the competition, or for vendors that like to play the field in terms of partnerships. Analysts at inCode Wireless predict major battles among carriers, vendors and affinity groups like Yahoo!.•