It’s just been revealed that back in November of last year Nokia purchased a Norwegian software company called “Smarterphone”. The details of the transaction aren’t yet available, and there isn’t even a press release on Nokia’s website. The little information we do have comes from Smarterphone’s website. Egil Kvaleberg, CEO of Smarterphone, says:
“Globally, there are 4 billion mobile phone users. Despite all the attention given to high end smartphones, the majority of the 4 billion can not afford such a device. With Smarterphone OS, inexpensive phones can be smart, too. Their users are just as keen to have easy and natural access to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube as users of high end phones.”
The press release containing that quote says that Smarterphone is already up to version 3.0 and that it’s “optimized for phones in the $25 to $75 price segment”. This ties in really well with what we’ve been hearing about Nokia starting work on a new low end Linux based operating system for feature phones called Meltemi. Could Nokia have come to the conclusion that such a project would be too hard to do on their own so it’s simply easier to buy a competitor’s product? Or could Nokia simply have purchased Smarterphone so that they can can merge the work that’s already been done internally with what Smarterphone’s engineers have cranked out?
The questions don’t stop there however. What’s going to happen to Nokia’s Series 40 operating system that today powers devices in the price segment that Smarterphone occupies? Is it being thrown away? Stephen Elop, Nokia’s CEO, has always said that “the next billion” is a fundamental pillar of the company’s future, and this deal proves that they’re serious about that, but how long until we’ll see a Nokia device running Smarterphone’s software?
Hopefully we’ll get some answers at Mobile World Congress next month.
[Hat tip to Andreas Constantinou]
Update: This PDF document is a “brief version” of the list of features that Smarterphone has. It’s 9 pages long and reveals that there’s support for touch screen and QWERTY devices, Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS, and even multitasking!