Nokia Switches to Open-Source Browser

Browser, which will run on Series 60 phones, will feature components
of Apple's Safari.

Peter Sayer, IDG News Service
Monday, June 13, 2005

Nokia is turning to open-source software developers to provide a new
Web browser for smart phones based on its Series 60 mobile phone
software platform, the company announced this week.

Series 60 is a user interface layer that runs on the Symbian smart
phone operating system from Symbian. Nokia licenses its software to a
number of companies, including LG Electronics, Lenovo Mobile,
Panasonic Mobile Communications, Samsung Electronics, Sendo
International, and Siemens, so the new browser could pop up all over
the market.

The browser, to be included in future releases of the Series 60
software, uses two components already employed by Apple Computer in
its Safari Web browser for its Mac OS X operating system.

The components are based on KHTML and KJS, two elements of the open
source Konqueror Web browser. Konqueror runs on the K Desktop
Environment, open-source software that provides a graphical user
interface for the Linux operating system.

Apple, of Cupertino, California, and Nokia, of Espoo, Finland, are
allowed to commercialize products based on the project's source code,
but must make the source code for the version they sell, including any
changes or improvements, available to their customers. Apple has in
the past been criticized for not contributing its changes back to the
community in a usable form. It recently altered the way it makes its
changes available, providing an easily-accessible online database of
the code, although the open source software license imposed no
obligation to do so.

Opening Up

This is not Nokia's first flirtation with the open-source software
community. Last month it announced that Linux kernel developers could
make use of Nokia-patented technologies under certain conditions, and
said it would block the use of Nokia patents by companies that opposed
use of their own patents in the Linux kernel.

While open-source software developers appear to be the winners in
Nokia's latest move, one company that could be affected is Opera
Software, of Oslo. Opera supplies the browser used by default in
Symbian smart phones today, making Nokia one of its largest customers,
according to Opera Communications Director Tor Odland--but he is not
worried by Nokia's move.

"We just announced a couple of months ago a renewed contract with
Nokia," he says. "This isn't them changing direction completely. They
already have their own browser too."

Odland expects the companies' relationship to continue: Nokia is
simply applying a strategy of dual-sourcing critical components, just
as it does with hardware, he says.

Nokia sees the Web browser as important because around 50 percent of
the data traffic generated by users of Nokia smart phones is generated
by Web browsing activities, it says.

The company intends to apply its experience in mobility to helping the
open-source community to develop and enhance these software
components, Nokia says.

That will take time, though, according to Opera's Odland: "It's going
to be way down the road before they can put something on the market."

Nokia expects to ship an open-source browser with support for all the
features of the current Opera product ready for licensees of the
Series 60 software platform during the first half of 2006, it said.,00.asp

"In the future, my private life will be expressed solely through art."
-- Britney Spears

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