Colly Myers: Symbian's CEO looks to standardize wireless communications

By Paul Krill, InfoWorld |  Hardware

Colly Myers is CEO of Symbian, in London. Formed by an alliance of Nokia, Panasonic, Ericsson, Psion, and Motorola, Symbian is in the business of developing wireless technologies and standards for a burgeoning marketplace for these non-traditional networking systems. Recently, InfoWorld Deputy News Editor Paul Krill spoke with Myers about Symbian's goals.

InfoWorld: How would you describe the primary objectives of Symbian?

Myers: The primary objective of Symbian is really twofold. [We're offering the EPOC] operating system software platform for mobile wireless devices. With the licensees we have, we believe we've got substantial support and to some degree we're already a de facto standard in doing this. The second part of our mission statement is to rapidly enable the mass market. There's a complex value chain in driving through the product and content and services onto these kinds of wireless devices. [Vendors are] starting now to data-enable these products and get wireless data going. So what we need to do is make sure that the content and services that deliver real function and usability to the user, which is the key thing, gets put down onto the product. The key thing about the platform is that it allows third-party software developers to bring their software down onto all the Symbian products because in the Symbian world we have a platform with different user interfaces on top of it. So we have what we call communicators, which are more data-centric devices with voice and voice integration and probably with keyboards, [as well as] devices without keyboards that are more like PalmPilots. And on those devices, what's critical is the integration with the wireless kind of information and the devices. And by doing so we get the third-party developers, content providers, and software services -- this whole value chain -- to deliver software, and that's what makes the market grow.

InfoWorld: Do you consider handheld or smaller devices as the primary interfaces for wireless systems, or are PCs also going to play a critical role?

Myers: We're very focused on mobile portable systems, so PCs are not in our space. But we think wireless clearly goes with [PCs] as well. So it's very much a part of the integration of wireless data and voice together. And using that in another way, for example, when you get an e-mail on our device, you can, say, 'Phone that person' without having to look up an address book or a telephone number. Or vice-versa, we have in Europe something called short message service. It's rather like a paging system here that allows you to go point to point without going through a service provider.

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