Nokia plans to keep its mobile devices competing against Windows Mobile, by adding support for Web services to all Symbian smartphones by next year.
"There are two protocol families emerging," said 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 5.0 (launched last week) made big steps to look more like a smartphone, Symbian 60 version 3.0 will make smartphones more able to handle IT functions, later this year. 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," said 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 Enterprise Summit in Berlin last week - 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," said Skytta. We delivered the same applications on two clients: a Windows smartphone, and a Nokia smartphone."
In future, frameworks such as that of the Liberty Alliance, are going to make Web services applications even easier to deliver, said Skytta, by eliminating the need to build up from components. Nokia's smartphones will have higher layers in the Web services stack, such as security, installed over time, said Skytta.
He denied that Microsoft and Nokia were actually in competition: "We have a common interest," he said. "We work towards the same goal - enabling web services. We both are building a marketplace."
On handsets, he said: "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 inter-operability 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, said 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.