Interview: Nokia’s Purnima Kochikar

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This week saw Nokia hold a developer day in Sydney; and before the event took place, TECHGEEK.com.au managed to get an e-mail interview with Purnima Kochikar, the Vice President of Forum Nokia – the developer community. We talked about Ovi and Nokia’s embrace of open source technology – as well as Symbian and Maemo/MeeGo.

So, hope you enjoy this little interview.

Editor’s Note: The questions were sent before MeeGo’s announcement; the answers, however, arrived after the announcement.

Q: Nokia is currently embracing the open source community – like contributing to Linux in terms of Bluetooth. What does Nokia see in open source in helping its development?

Nokia is making significant use of open source software, as well as contributing to the open source community. Our open source approach is key to engaging a broad community – developers, operators, chipset vendors, OEMs etc. We believe that the larger the ecosystem, the greater the innovation and thus the richer the user experience. We also see that the greater the scale, the greater the opportunity for value creation.

Q: After open-sourcing Symbian, what effect – good and bad – have you seen towards the development of the platform?

I think it’s a little early to tell, but the Symbian Foundation may have some evidence of interest to share.

As background, Nokia supported this move. The following quote from Peter Ropke, SVP, Devices Research and Development, nicely summarises our positive support for the effort:

“Nokia congratulates the Symbian Foundation on the completion of its platform migration to full open source well ahead of schedule – a significant milestone for the Symbian platform, the Foundation and the entire mobile industry. With this achievement, the world’s most popular smartphone platform is available in its entirety for developers around the world to innovate on and contribute to, enabling new opportunities for engagement and monetisation. For Nokia, this truly open platform environment brings the promise of exciting new user experiences for our Symbian-based smartphones.”

Q: Because of the variety of operating systems found on mobile devices, especially when the iPhone OS has already over a million applications, how hard is it to convince developers to produce applications for Symbian and Maemo?

Forum Nokia has well over four million registered developers and tens of thousands actively developing for our devices on Symbian, Maemo and S40. The Ovi Store now has over one million downloads a day.

Further Ovi Store statistics include:

  • Australia is in the top 15 countries in terms of the number of downloads
  • New users are up more than 100% month-on-month
  • Downloads are up more than 100% month-on-month
  • Successful local developers include LookOutMobile, DOJO Media and Oz Mobi, with downloads into the thousands

Q: How many applications does the Ovi Store have, and where do you see it in a year’s time?

The total number is not really relevant. What’s relevant is the number of items available for each device in each market. There are well over 5K content items for each of our lead devices.

Q: Currently, Maemo OS 5 is currently on the Nokia N900. Do you expect developers to build more applications and any other devices to use Maemo/MeeGo?

Yes, we have developers creating content now for Ovi Store for the N900. We have previously announced that our next device will launch later this year on MeeGo.

By using Qt, developers can write applications for a wide range of devices and easily deploy them on Maemo today, MeeGo in the future and even other platforms, like Symbian. This saves them time and increases the reach for their applications.

Q: Other touchscreen devices use Windows Mobile, Google Android or the iPhone OS. What does Maemo/MeeGo offer for Nokia, consumers and developers?

The Nokia N900, based on Maemo 5, is aimed at tech­nology enthusiasts and offers the full Internet with no comprise, the ability to multitask and a new user interface including the panorama desktop. In all areas we want to provide the industry leading experience, to this end, we are including market leading experiences, such as a Mozilla based browser, Microsoft Exchange email integration, and our own OVI services.

Maemo is an advanced Linux based computing plat­form. It uses the standard Linux Kernel 2.6 – not a proprietary mobile Linux kernel – and other standard upstream open source components. In developing Maemo, we have worked in and with leading open source projects; in fact, over 80% of Maemo code is comprised of upstream open source software. What we add is our expertise in user experience, user interface, hardware and services integration.

With Maemo 6 merging with Moblin 2 to create MeeGo, this new platform will drive an even wider range of Internet computing and communication experiences for consumers.

MeeGo benefits for developers:

  • a large installed base of devices One set of APIs for apps

MeeGo benefits for consumers:

  • More apps!
  • Same apps with same user experience across a wide range of devices
  • Endless innovation on all levels due to openness of software stack

Q: Finally, what do you see Nokia heading in the next five to ten years in terms of development? Does Nokia plan to open source any other technologies?

Nokia is an active participant in the open source community and we’re always evaluating opportunities that will help further innovation in the mobile industry.