New head of Forum Nokia says he will foster relationships with the
traditional Internet developer community, as well as Linux.
One of the key goals for Nokia’s developer program in 2008 is going to be reaching out to the traditional Web development community, as well as trying to enlarge its base among the Linux community, according to the new head of Forum Nokia.
Tom Libretto, who took over effective Jan. 1, 2008, from Lee Epting as a Nokia vice president heading the developer effort, says the work with the Web developers will include support for widgets on Nokia’s S60 and Series 40 handset platforms.
“Our handsets with S60 Feature Pack 2 have a
Web runtime engine that
enables PC-based widgets
to operate on a Nokia
handset. That opens up
a brand new avenue for
developers.” Tom Libretto,
Head of Forum Nokia
Forum Nokia is one of the largest mobile developer communities in the world with about 3.5 million registered developers. It includes developer education, tools, technical information and support, as well as access to distribution channels and business development assistance.
Libretto had been marketing director for Nokia’s Mobility Solutions business unit. He also oversaw the Forum Nokia PRO Enterprise Zone. Before joining Nokia in 2005, he worked for IBM, including management of IBM’s PartnerWorld program.
Most recently, Nokia has been seeing a lot of interest in using its handset platforms for access to Internet services, Libretto says. Nokia has developed technology for S60 to enable interaction with programs on the Web, including the use of widgets.
“Our handsets with S60 Feature Pack 2 have a Web runtime engine that enables PC-based widgets to operate on a Nokia handset,” he says. “That opens up a brand new avenue for developers.”
A widget is a graphical interface that easily allows mobile phone users to access content or services from the Internet. Handset manufacturers and service providers have been using widgets more as a way of personalizing handsets, as well as making handsets easier to use.
“We’re starting to see some big brands developing widgets for our handsets, as well as smaller companies that want easier ways to serve content to a handheld device,” Libretto says.
LINUX & SYMBIAN
Nokia’s interest in Linux and in getting more Linux developer support, at least at this point, is for its Internet Tablets, Libretto says. The only devices Nokia currently has that run Linux are the Wi-Fi-enabled tablets.
Nokia did recently acquire, for $153 million, the mobile Linux company Trolltech. Nokia isn’t saying yet what effect the acquisition might have on its use of Linux, saying only that it was interested in Trolltech’s expertise in cross-platform software and the potential for Internet services. Still, it sounds like it will play into what Libretto talks about in developing applications that work on the Internet, on Nokia devices and on PCs.
ABI Research says in an analyst note it thinks the Trolltech acquisition shows Nokia “is getting serious about Linux and signals more challenging times ahead for Symbian.” The note also speculates the acquisition “is likely to lead to Nokia introducing other handsets based on Linux on the coming years.”
Libretto didn’t discuss the Trolltech acquisition but, asked about Google’s interest in developing the Linux-based Android handset platform, said he is in a “wait-and-see mode.” He says it is an open question whether Android will succeed as a handset platform. Meanwhile, Nokia is selling 1.5 million handsets a day using Symbian S60 and Series 40.
If and when Linux grows in importance on the handset, Nokia will embrace it more strongly, Libretto says.
Another of Libretto’s goals is to improve what Forum Nokia offers for developers on the Web, where the majority of its interaction with developers takes place. That includes blogs, collaborative forums, assistance with commercial ventures and providing a “cross-pollination of skills.”
One example was the recent creation of its “Creative Pros” program, specifically for Adobe Flash developers and support of Adobe Flash Lite 3.0. The program is designed to help the 1.5 million Flash developers optimize existing Flash desktop content for Nokia devices.
Libretto says he has no plans to change the Forum Nokia PRO program, an invitation-only program for several hundred major developers that provides more go-to-market support. The program has been very successful, Libretto says.
Forum Nokia developers are pretty equally spread among the Americas, Europe and Asia, he says, although there has been “massive growth” in China. The forum has offices in all those regions. Libretto himself will be based in New York.