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ESPOO, Finland – James and I are here at Nokia’s Way We Live Next event, listening to folks talk about what Nokia sees the future of the industry may be like. One of the talks this morning was by David Rivas, big guy from S60 R&D. He spoke mostly about the Symbian Foundation.

A strong theme throughout the talk was that the Symbian Platform (the operating system software upon which all our smartphones are built) was open to all developers, and provides many different environments in which developers can create software.

And that reminded me of a story.

The marvel of a camera

When Nokia’s first S60 phone, the Nokia 7650, was launched at the end of 2001, we were very excited with the camera (it was Nokia’s first cameraphone). Also, from the start, we were keen to see what kinds of software folks would create for the phone.

That got us thinking.

The 7650, for some reason, did not come with video software. We first thought that the camera wasn’t able to process the frames needed to capture video. Then there was a rumor that it was somewhere down the line (something like 1 year) coming in a later phone.

Saved by clever code

Well, 4 months after the phone went on sale in the summer of 2002, a group of video codec developers in central Finland (alas, I forget their names) created a simple application that would record video on the 7650.

We were elated. It was a proof-point of what we were trying to tell people about S60 being open to all. Also, it was a great example of capturing innovation from outside the company – we licensed it immediately, put it in the next S60 phone (the Nokia 3650), and were able to leap forward with our roadmap in terms of video.

Where are we today?

Of course, today, we would never create a smartphone that could not record video. Our leading S60 phones are heavily focused on creating media, particularly photos and video. And people use them heavily that way.

If I may toot our own horn (I may? Thank you!), we not only have a range of devices that make high-quality video, but (and here’s that open innovation thing again) folks, like Qik, have created software to make it easy for folks to stream video live from a Nokia N95.

Hm, I wonder if we might ever make Qik broadcasting standard in our smartphones?


Image of a Revere Model 55 by John Kratz