Nokia plans to keep its mobile devices competing against Windows Mobile by adding support for web services to all Symbian smart phones by next year.
"There are two protocol families emerging [in the mobile phone market]," says Timo Skytta, director of web services at Nokia. "One is SIP-based, from a voice background. The other is web services, emerging from IT vendors such as Sun and Microsoft. Nokia needs to let people develop applications using both."
So while Windows Mobile 5 (launched last week) made big steps to look more like a smart phone, Symbian 60 version 3 will, later this year, make smart phones more able to handle IT functions. The Symbian Series 80-based Communicator phones were given Web services a few months ago.
"The important thing is to make sure we don't create mobile-specific protocols," says Skytta. "We want to make sure one set of generic web services protocols can support mobile and non-mobile applications. Our phones will seamlessly integrate with web services on the rest of a company's IT architecture."
Nokia made the point at its recent Enterprise Summit in Berlin, showing a Windows server with an application exposed as a web service. "We used Microsoft .Net Studio, with a plug-in to deliver applications to Nokia phones," says Skytta. We delivered the same applications on two clients: a Windows smart phone and a Nokia smart phone."
Skytta denies that Microsoft and Nokia are in competition: "We have a common interest," he says. "We work towards the same goal: enabling web services. We both are building a marketplace."
On handsets, he says, "Microsoft it coming from a different place. They have some stuff before us, such as .Net Compact Framework. We have some stuff before them."
By making interoperability easier, and allowing a better user experience, web services increase the attractiveness (and therefore revenue) of consumer applications, and the ease (and therefore productivity) of business applications, says Skytta.
Nokia's move to web services is not a sudden shift. The company has been involved in the Oasis, Liberty Alliance and W3C standards groups. It also helped fund the Mozilla effort that produced the Firefox browser.