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Video: Lee Williams of Symbian challenges Google’s Andy Rubin: Show Us Your Android Code!

In the third part of our interview with Lee Williams of the Symbian Foundation, we turned to the subject of Android. I had expected Lee to give us one or two sentences about Android along the lines of ‘we see it, it’s not a focus for us’ but no — he got stuck right in, eloquently making the point that Android, whilst generally acknowledged to be ‘open’, isn’t entirely so.

Android, as Lee put it, exists to serve Google’s specific interests. Lee goes on to point out that as Symbian is entirely open (“Andy Rubin and others from Google can come sit on our councils, they can come check in code”) and believes this will make all the difference to the Symbian platform’s development over time.

Have a watch of the video and see what you think:


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By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

9 replies on “Video: Lee Williams of Symbian challenges Google’s Andy Rubin: Show Us Your Android Code!”

Android forced Symbian to open and free.

Android repowered Motorola and HTC.

Android has the best ecosystem momentum of the industry.

Android profits the web, the web profits Google. Symbian profits Nokia.

Nokia and Apple will eventually build Android phones.

Right. This is not a criticism in anyway as I sure as all hell couldn't do your job, but are these video clips from MWC going to be posted in the format as above or using the vimeo method that was used for Rafe's introduction video? I only ask so that I know if I can open the link directly from my email and download the the video, or should I wait so that I can open and then watch it within the browser there and then.

Just thought I would ask that is all…

Until your last comment I thought you might have a point and was waiting for it.
But obviously, you do not have a clue what you are talking about.
Why would Apple/Nokia build Android phones? They both have way higher market share and profits than whatever Android has.
On top of that, different platforms stimulates the ecosystem.
I don't see Android becoming the only survivor, except if Google starts to pay consumers to use Android…

Sure platform competition is good for consumers. But Android is free and open-source so that allows for the best industry competition within itself. Sure they have the Open Handset Alliance, but that is how to best get this open-source project going for the first year or so. You can't convince all the large phone makers to participate in a fully open source project with open governance from day one. Open governance is a great idea, I would like it to happen as soon as possible. But I am pretty sure basic open source management systems don't allow that to happen smoothly with an unlimited amount of contributors from day one.

If you look at the smart phone industry statistics, Android market share is exploding and taking from all of Symbian, Apple and Windows Mobile market shares. This is going to continue to accelerate until Android dominates the whole market.

It's not only a market share issue, it's a question of ecosystem momentum. Nokia and Apple won't be able to exclude themselves from the industry. They can take Android, customize it and differentiate from there. This is not just about voice anymore, this is a whole computer in the pocket. Linux wins. Maemo is not bad, but the best people are working on Android, so no reason to fight it. Linux distributions merge and focus on enabling the features that the consumers want and need.

I have to say, not just I, but the facts – the truth – disagree with you on several points.

> But Android is free and open-source
Symbian is more free, and more open source though. Android exists to serve Google, end of story.

> Android market share is exploding and taking from all of Symbian, Apple and Windows Mobile market shares.
Errrm. No it's not. Not in the slightest. Android is going nowhere fast. See the other story on here titled “1.2 billion handsets sold in 2009, Nokia & Symbian still top”. Then click through to Gartner's results. Android has 3.9% market share. Symbian has almost 47% market share.

> They can take Android, customize it and differentiate from there
Why on earth would Nokia take an inferior, immature, and controlled platform (Android) with numerous problems, and replace the existing very mature, technically superior to everything else out there, and hugely successful existing solution (Symbian) that has an amazing future ahead of it.

> Linux wins
You did see the MeeGo announcement between Nokia and Intel didn't you? Linux will indeed probably win (though only on a specific class of devices) but it won't win in the guise of Android…

Really Charbax you and anyone who agrees with you need to do a radical examination of where you're putting your efforts. You clearly have passion and energy, why waste it on Android? Your talents would be much better utilised on the platform with a future and an existing vast userbase.

> Android exists to serve Google, end of story.

Symbian serves Nokia more than Android serves Google. Google put itself in this very fortunate position where the better access to the Internet makes them more profits. Sure that is a pretty good business model to have. Although I am not convinced mobile and location based advertisement will really take off, so the best business models are more likely going to be subscriptions for services. So Google will have to transform from advertising based business into a subscription based one if they will still want to dominate the web.

> Android is going nowhere fast.

Aw comon. Android is the fastest growing mobile OS, every major mobile phone manufacturer (other than Nokia and Apple) are making their most advanced devices run Android, which surely is irrefutable. Android even lets small entrants come into this space contributing their own differentiations to the market and thus influencing the market more than they have ever been able to. It just creates a fair and level playing field for all hardware makers to compete fairly and for innovation to really accelerate like it never has.

> Android exists to serve Google, end of story.

Symbian serves Nokia more than Android serves Google. Google put itself in this very fortunate position where the better access to the Internet makes them more profits. Sure that is a pretty good business model to have. Although I am not convinced mobile and location based advertisement will really take off, so the best business models are more likely going to be subscriptions for services. So Google will have to transform from advertising based business into a subscription based one if they will still want to dominate the web.

> Why on earth would Nokia take an inferior, immature, and controlled platform (Android)

Nokia is working on Android already. Things move very fast, and creating very differentiated products takes over a year of work even for the biggest players in the industry. So obviously Nokia would have to keep it a secret, even secret within the company. But you can be sure Nokia and Apple engineers are working very hard on studying and experimenting with the Android source code. And if they need to, they will be able to launch some of the best Android devices within 3 months of the announcement. When something is open source and is clearly having a huge momentum, you can't afford not to work with it especially if you have billions of dollars in the bank and have thousands of engineers working for you and just waiting to have something to do.

> Android exists to serve Google, end of story.

Symbian serves Nokia more than Android serves Google. Google put itself in this very fortunate position where the better access to the Internet makes them more profits. Sure that is a pretty good business model to have. Although I am not convinced mobile and location based advertisement will really take off, so the best business models are more likely going to be subscriptions for services. So Google will have to transform from advertising based business into a subscription based one if they will still want to dominate the web.

> Android is going nowhere fast.

Aw comon. Android is the fastest growing mobile OS, every major mobile phone manufacturer (other than Nokia and Apple) are making their most advanced devices run Android, which surely is irrefutable. Android even lets small entrants come into this space contributing their own differentiations to the market and thus influencing the market more than they have ever been able to. It just creates a fair and level playing field for all hardware makers to compete fairly and for innovation to really accelerate like it never has.

> Android exists to serve Google, end of story.

Symbian serves Nokia more than Android serves Google. Google put itself in this very fortunate position where the better access to the Internet makes them more profits. Sure that is a pretty good business model to have. Although I am not convinced mobile and location based advertisement will really take off, so the best business models are more likely going to be subscriptions for services. So Google will have to transform from advertising based business into a subscription based one if they will still want to dominate the web.

> Your talents would be much better utilised on the platform with a future

The future is sub-$100 pocket computers and free unlimited mobile broadband for all in the world. Sure Nokia knows how to make cheap mobile phones, and they make a lot of money from cheap mobile phones. The thing is Nokia has had the chance to make things happen for the last decade, they had the weight in the industry to really change things for the better. But somehow they cared less about changing the world than about optimizing profit margins. Now that their existing business model became under threat first by closed Apple OS then by much better open and free Linux Android OS, they should jump on the right train, put all their knowledge in making better devices and just help change the world as fast as possible. And if Nokia is afraid of profits going away, there are still 5 billion people without Internet access, and there is rich countries that need to be technologically revolutionized. There is plenty of business to make for all.

Isn't there a little problem that (open sourced) symbian cannot even be compiled into something that works right now? And symbian is essentially relying on community to write even the most basic documentation?

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