* To switch to Linux MeeGo from Symbian
* Linux winning increasing share of the smartphone market
* Nokia to continue using Symbian for cheaper smartphones
* Research firm says Nokia should take back Symbian control
(Adds details on Symbian, comments, shares)
By Tarmo Virki, European technology correspondent
HELSINKI, June 24 (Reuters) - Nokia Oyj NOK1V.HE will use Linux MeeGo software in its flagship N-series smartphones, hoping the new platform will give it a better chance to battle rivals such as Apple Inc (AAPL.O) and Google Inc (GOOG.O).
The N-series has been Nokia’s crown jewel for years and it dominated the smartphone market before Apple’s iPhone was introduced in 2007.
Nokia’s next smartphone, the N8, will be the last N-series phone running Symbian software.
“Going forward, N-series devices will be based on MeeGo,” said Nokia spokesman Doug Dawson.
Nokia’s decision is the latest blow for Symbian, the market leader for smartphones, which has lost share in recent years with the rise of the iPhone.
Nokia will continue to use Symbian for its vast portfolio of cheaper smartphones.
“Symbian is enabling us to bring smartphones to more and more people and ensures the benefits of scale for our solutions and services, and for developers,” Dawson said.
Nokia bought out other shareholders of Symbian Plc in 2008, and then gave the code to the open source community, hoping to generate wider interest among developers and phone makers to create attractive services and software.
However, so far, other phone makers have shown little interest in Symbian. “We believe it is now time for Nokia to take decisive action and assume full control of the Symbian operating system,” said Ben Wood, head of research at British wireless consultancy CCS Insight.
“Such a move would give Nokia complete control over the destiny of its most important platform at present. Potentially controversial, such a move would be an acknowledgement that this part of its open-source approach has failed,” Wood said.
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Nokia and Intel Corp (INTC.O) in February unveiled plans to create MeeGo, merging Nokia’s Linux Maemo software platform with Intel’s Moblin, which is also based on Linux open-source software. [ID:nLDE61E0Z2]
“The confirmation that MeeGo will be used for the next flagship N-series device shows Nokia is betting the ranch on this platform to beat high-end rivals such as Apple’s iPhone,” said Wood.
Versions of the Linux operating system — also including Google’s Android, operator-backed LiMo and Palm’s webOS — have won increased share of the mobile device market.
In the first quarter the total market share of Linux phones rose to 14 percent from 8.5 percent a year ago, according to Gartner.
Linux is the most popular type of open-source computer operating system available to the public. Its direct rival on PCs is Microsoft (MSFT.O), which charges for its Windows software and opposes freely sharing its code.
Shares in Nokia were 1.3 percent lower at 6.92 euros by 1226 GMT, in line with a weaker STOXX 600 European technology index .SX8P. (Editing by David Holmes and Erica Billingham)