AT&T plans to run a single mobile OS on all of its branded smartphones, citing the "support nightmare" of maintaining multiple platforms at once. Curiously, this announcement was made at a Symbian conference. Updated 13:05 EST.
It's not entirely clear what AT&T means by this announcement, but one question was addressed right off the bat: the iPhone, which the company described as "a third-party device" that generally isn't supported or interfered with by the company, is immune. Such a consolidation would push all but one of Microsoft, RIM, Nokia or even Google out of AT&T's stable, which might be construed as brash.
Even more bizarre are the implicit expectations for phone manufacturers. Would RIM, assuming their phones aren't deemed "third party products", be expected to adopt a new OS? Will Nokia phones be excluded from AT&T's lineup unless they run Windows Mobile? Simultaneously stating that the plan would only include AT&T branded smartphones (of which there are few) and that it would be a "dramatic restructuring", the company has left the scope of this initiative a mystery.
As for which OS would be chosen, the location of the announcement and mentions of a preference for an "open" platform are all we have to go on. I could imagine these statements raising a few eyebrows around the industry, so don't be surprised to see some kind of clarification issued in the next few days. [Yahoo]
UPDATE: Although it is possible some quotes in the original story came from a post-speech interview with AT&T's Roger Smith, commenter Sinecure saw the presentation and took away a completely different message:
I sat through the entirety of Roger Smith's presentation at the Symbian show yesterday and I did NOT come away with that impression one single bit. Methinks some Yahoo reporter just got a little over-excited for an interesting headline. I'm calling major BS and misinterpretation on this one.
Frankly it makes me even more suspect of some of the reporting on technical subjects out there.
Bottom line: I heard this supposed "announcement" first hand and I did not hear him say anything approaching what the reporter is saying.