A Watched Merger Never Boils


The cool thing about being a blogger or an analyst is that you can tell everyone else what to do, usually in a few paragraphs. The reality, however, is that once a prediction is made, the already slender chance that it actually will happen is reduced to about zero.


High-level prognostication deals only with the most obvious elements of a deal, not the nitty-gritty financial and egotistical details. Nor does it take into account the long-term strategic goals of the players, which are not always obvious, but play a major role in whether two entities decide to cast their lots together.


That is important to keep in mind as the potential for a merger of Android and Symbian is considered. That prospect, which analyst Jack Gold says is inevitable within the next half-year, according to this internetnews.com story, brought denials from both companies.


On the surface, there seems to be a basis for such a move: Android is open source and Symbian is moving in that direction. Computerworld sums up Gold's rationale: He suggests that having a single open source OS will improve business for content providers, that Android might be interested in calling in the cavalry because it is having trouble meeting its deadlines, many of the same companies are in the Google-led Open Handset Alliance and the nascent Symbian Foundation, and that a merger would bring in other open source operating system projects, such as the LiMo Foundation.


Though Gold did not mention this, it is fair to point out that the two lead companies are talking. Symbian Chief Executive Nigel Clifford was quoted in mid July as saying that it is possible that cooperation between his company and Google could grow on both the application and operating system level. The Reuters piece didn't, however, provide details on whether Clifford's comments referred specifically to Android.


Gold's comments were met with skepticism by other industry watchers. This, of course, always is the case when an analyst goes out on a limb -- or tries to generate some notoriety. In one piece, "Android and Symbian Won't Merge," blogger Dana Blankenhorn assumes that Symbian would be the lead partner in a merger. The goal is to create a mobile Internet terminal to take on Apple and its iPhone, and Blankenship says that the deal won't happen because the underpinnings of Symbian aren't up to the task.