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Symbian sceptical of Google Android software

CEO says Android is just another Linux platform

The CEO of Symbian says he's already spoilt for choice with Linux-based mobile phone platforms and that Google's new Android software appears to be another to add to the list.

"One of the reactions is, it's another Linux platform," said Nigel Clifford at a Tokyo news conference when asked about Google's new phone platform. "There's 10, 15, 20, maybe 25 different Linux platforms out there. It sometimes appears that Linux is fragmenting faster than it unifies."

Symbian recognises Google's commitment to 'openness' and sees that as a good thing, Clifford said. "But I probably would say there is no such thing as free software."

Symbian will be among Google's competitors as it tries to bring its new phone software to market.

Android was developed by Google and others under the umbrella of the Open Handset Alliance. The platform will be based on Linux and other open-source elements and offer a complete set of phone components, including an operating system, middleware stack, customisable user interface and applications.

A number of big names in the wireless industry have already thrown their weight behind OHA, including carriers such as T-Mobile, NTT DoCoMo, Sprint Nextel, Telecom Italia and China Mobile; handset makers including Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics, Motorola and HTC; and others such as Intel, Ebay, NVidia, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments.

Clifford seemed unfazed at the competition for Symbian, which has the lion's share of the smartphone market in all regions except North America.

"I think if you look at the market share slides you'll see we're no stranger to competing with big brands," he said. "One other element is to look at where the biggest opportunity is, and that is competing inside our customers for those products which are currently using our customers' operating systems."

Indeed, three of Symbian's biggest supporters - Samsung, LG and Motorola - are also partners in the OHA, so the two platforms will be competing to get in those manufacturers' handsets.

"We're the market leader, and we aim to remain the market leader," he said.


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