Is this the beginning of the end for Symbian? On July 17, Nokia announced it will sell its Symbian professional services unit to Accenture. The division provides engineering consulting and product development services to mobile phone manufacturers, chip makers and wireless service providers that develop products based on Symbian software for mobile phones. This software is the most widely used in smartphones today, but it’s been fast losing ground to rivals such as Android.
The sale is yet another indication that “Nokia keeps distancing itself from Symbian, divesting of nearly anything that is directly related,” Jack Gold, principal at J. Gold Associates, wrote in this morning’s note. “This reinforces our earlier position that Symbian is no longer strategic to Nokia’s success.” Considering that Nokia is the world’s No. 1 cell phone maker, that’s bad news for Symbian.
Even though Symbian has been restructuring and making an effort to attract developers in order to stabilize its market share and regain its momentum, that may not be possible now as even its biggest supporter, Nokia, moves on to greener pastures. “I’d expect Nokia to offer ‘other’ [software, such as Android], within the year,” Gold writes. As it makes a push into Mobile Internet Devices, or tablets, Nokia will use alternative software rather than Symbian for those gadgets as well, he says.
Symbian will have “a tactical rather than a strategic potion in Nokia’s future,” Gold writes. And that likely means that Symbian will continue to see its market share melting despite all the changes and innovations it makes to the software.
That said, this is a smart move for Accenture, which likely picked up the unit on the cheap (the amount of the deal has not been disclosed). As handset makers and carriers launch their app stores and keep on innovating on handset software, they will want to outsource more of that work to reduce costs. That’s where Accenture will come in.
The company, which already has expertise in Windows Mobile and Symbian software, plans to leverage the staffers and know-hows it acquires from Nokia to expand into all kinds of mobile software, including Android. “We have a huge ambition in this space, and this is a strategic acquisition,” says Jean-Laurent Poitou, managing director of Accenture’s Electronics & High-Tech industry group.