Nokia's Anssi Vanjoki says 'the fightback starts now', champions both Symbian and MeeGo

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Anssi Vanjoki, marking his first day as Nokia's Head of Mobile Solutions, and in the face of recent widespread criticism of Nokia's high end device performance and strategy, has come out with some hard hitting statements in a feature on Nokia's Conversations blog. He underlines the importance of Symbian for Nokia, suggests that a Symbian^4 powered Nseries device is 'a very strong possibility', says that, for consumers, MeeGo will mean having 'true computing power in your pocket' and that MeeGo gives Nokia the ability 'to take mobile technology beyond the smartphone'. Read on for further details.

It's fair to say that Vanjoki and Nokia are in the smartphone and mobile computing world for the long haul, for a battle in the markets that will range from sub-£100 devices to £500 flagships.

Here Anssi Vanjoki, quoted from the Conversations piece, talks about the role of Symbian and MeeGo as Nokia software platforms of choice:

Symbian and MeeGo are the best software for our smartest devices. As such, we have no plans to use any other software. Despite rumors to the contrary, there are no plans to introduce an Android device from Nokia. There has also been some confusion about Symbian and Nseries. The Nokia N8 will be our only Nseries devices on Symbian^3. Of course, we ‘never comment on future products’, but a Symbian^4 Nseries device is a strong possibility. A very strong possibility.

As the new chief of Nokia's Mobile Solutions division, Vanjoki is the man in charge of delivering and shaping the future direction and classification of Nseries as well as the top half (index numbers 5 and upwards) of the Xseries, Eseries and Cseries. He makes it very clear that these devices will run on Symbian or MeeGo and explicitly rules out Android as a software platform for Nokia.  

His comment on the future of Nseries does contrast somewhat with earlier statements from Nokia on this subject, although the addition of the Symbian^3 caveat perhaps offers an explanation. 

It is reasonable to assume that Vanjoki, on the first day in his position, is seeking to keep his options open, with regards to future Nseries devices, by leaving the door open for a future Symbian^4 powered Nseries device. Vanjoki clearly sees Symbian^4 as a capable platform able to run high-end devices. While writing about 'a very strong possibility' does leave some wiggle room, it does now appear that is fair to say there is an excellent chance we will see a Symbian^4 powered Nseries devices in 2011.

It is worth noting that the series branding labels of Nokia's devices is, in large part, a marketing label. The boundaries between them have evolved and will continue to evolve as technology, market conditions and user expectations change. Moreover, is not unusual for a device to change its model number or even series branding during the development phase.

Vanjoki is clearly aware of the criticism that Nokia and the Symbian platform has faced:

Symbian is our platform of choice for Nokia smartphones. Symbian has taken a lot of criticism lately – some of it fair, some not. But what is consistently overlooked is that Symbian still accounts for more than two-fifths of the global smartphone market. We believe the Nokia N8 will have great appeal. People want a smartphone that is familiar, packed with features, offers great performance. With products like the N8 and others to follow, we have preserved the best and most familiar parts of Symbian, making it effortless for the largest population of smartphone users to upgrade. We are determined to win back supporters, including Ricky, our favourite Symbian Guru.

Unsurprisingly, there's a reminder of Symbian's dominant market share, but there's a clear contention that familiarity, together with features and performance, are key ingredients in Nokia's Symbian devices going forward.

A nod towards our friends at the Symbian-Guru blog is indicative of the scale of the challenge that Nokia faces at the high end of the market, but also suggests that, at the very highest levels, Nokia listens to the conversations of its community more closely than many people may realise.

Vanjoki goes on to explain Nokia's ambition for MeeGo:

MeeGo offers us an opportunity to take mobile technology beyond the smartphone, and into a new world of connected devices. As Symbian gears up to compete with the likes of iPhone and Android, MeeGo is taking clear aim at the computing space. The current phase of MeeGo development is looking awesome. We believe it will power the computers of the future. And the computers of the future will not be tied to a desk or even a lap – they will fit in your pocket.

MeeGo is a keystone technology for Nokia's aspirations in mobile technology. As we outlined in our recent article on the changing shape of Nseries, it is clear that Nokia sees MeeGo as a platform to build products beyond smartphones. 

Just as notable is the idea that Nokia's vision for mobile computing is about devices that will fit in the pocket; a position that Nokia have long maintained. While the company has experimented with netbooks and will likely do so with tablets, there is a continuing vision of the pocketable mobile computer (with the physical size constraints that that implies), standing in contrast with some of Nokia's major competitors.

From the ground up, MeeGo is a computer operating system. Working with Intel, we’ve combined our assets to create a software platform that completely integrates mobile elements such as GPS, Bluetooth, NFC and more. This will offer developers a rich environment to create new possibilities for users. For consumers, it will mean true computing power in your pocket. Something that can deliver everything you want, but be with you all the time.

Again the potential for new possibilities is flagged as well as the importance of developers in Nokia's MeeGo vision. It is interesting to see NFC (a short range wireless communication standard) name checked, suggesting it will be integrated in MeeGo devices in 2011.

The full article from Anssi Vanjoki can be read on Nokia Conversations blog.