A guest  post from the Unreasonablemen.net

The announcement yesterday about Nokia’s acquisition of the rest of Symbian clearly draws the battle lines for a new age of competition. To me this strengthens my view about Google’s Android play.

For those who suffer from Nick Carr’s internet driven attention disorder, I basically said that Android is Goggle’s play to stay relevant in an increasingly mobile world. Currently Google can’t serve up Adwords to (my) mobile browser and given the growth in sales and increasing power of PDAs and micro computers this will be a big problem for them.

There has been a bunch written about Nokia’s acquisition but here are the titbits that I’ve used to support my theory and the title for this post.

Firstly let’s just talk about scale. I mention it briefly in the Android post, and for more on scale (different industry), I go into more detail here. Richard McManus of R/WW has a great graph showing market share of handset OS players. Check it out. Android is nowhere, Apple is a minnow, Microsoft and RIM are clear challengers. But look at the Symbian share! They are already the dominant player. They get all those scale benefits. They do have their challenges to address though.

Nat at Radar O’Reilly has picked up on the fact that both Android and Symbian have chosen to license the OS in a way that is both open source and allows them to build future monetisation revenues based on proprietary technology.

Proprietary competitive hardware and software can be put into any Android or Nokia phone at the appropriate level of the stack.

This is proprietary component critical for both. I’d be guessing as to what they’ll do, but I can tell you why. Both Nokia and Google need replacement revenue streams to start coming to fruition.

The ‘open’ component is also critical. At this time, the only thing Symbian appears to be lacking is a good developer community. As Microsoft has proven again and again, you need developers to really make a platform stick. Nokia urgently needs to get everyone developing on its platform. Hell – replicate the Apple play if you have too, just do it.

In his analysis of this move Om Malik looks at the disruption that is going on in the handset world. It’s a good analysis, but a little narrow for my liking, there is more than one industry involved here. The gem from it that is the part that I think is highly relevant to my platform theory.

[discussing handset makers] “The PC industry went through a similar gut-wrenching change …. The biggest prize went, unsurprisingly, to platform owner Microsoft — which didn’t merely sell an OS, but relentlessly wooed developers to write applications for its platform to make it more useful.”

In the battle to be the most relevant mobile platform, the vendors could do a lot worse than learn from Microsoft’s successes and failures.

We are heading toward a mobile future. Handsets are cheaper, do more and are more functional. More people have them! The mobile data networks of today are able to support our growing data requirements and speed demands. Many nations who bypassed computers and even PSTN telephony are embracing mobile technology, which means a bigger market pool available to the winner. This is also directly threatening to some really big companies futures – Google, Microsoft, Apple for instance. Make no mistake, whoever wins this battle will win big. For that reason there will be a massive scrap afoot in this space.

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