Symbian 3 launch late, but MeeGo on time, says Nokia CEO

Nokia will miss its self-imposed deadline for shipping the new versions of its Symbian OS.

Nokia, the world's best-selling mobile phone maker, will miss its self-imposed deadline for shipping the new versions of its Symbian operating system for smart mobile devices.

But it will meet its end-of-year target for MeeGo, a multi-device platform it is developing with chip maker Intel.

Nokia CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo said the delay was to ensure that the quality and user experience provided by the new system was robust and offered "competitive value" to users. As a result, Symbian 3 will launch in the second quarter and ship in the third quarter of 2010, and Symbian 4 will launch in 2011, he told a web conference on the firm's first quarter results.

He said it was "in everyone's interest" to get the quality right. He said network operators, which had access to other phone makers' plans, were giving Symbian 3 high marks. "The feedback has been extremely positive."

Symbian 3 promises better use of touch and better video performance to put it on equal terms with new operating systems such as Apple's iPhone and Google's Android. Their success depressed Nokia's share of the smartphone market from 35% to 33% in the past two quarters.

Kallasvuo said Symbian 3 is a catch-up product, but it represents most of the "heavy lifting" needed to compete with the iPhone and Android phones. Symbian 4 will not offer such a big improvement, he said.

That step change is likely to come from Linux-based MeeGo. Kallasvuo presented MeeGo as a very high-end multi-device platform, optimised for mobile communications, running everything from netbook computers to in-vehicle entertainment systems and online television sets.

He said the first MeeGo devices would appear before the end of the year.

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