Editorial

Nokia, let Symbian die so that you may live

Sitting at my desk, browsing my RSS feeds, I noticed that Engadget had an article about Symbian (the OS behind Nokia’s fleet of phones).  The article suggests that the Symbian Foundation (the OS’s developer) is closing up shop, with employees being offered severance packages. This won’t come a much of a surprise to those that follow mobile news. Samsung – once a major contributer to the foundation – has left Symbian behind, as it now has Windows Phone 7, Android and its own ‘bada’ OS to keep its devices going strong, and Sony Ericsson, also a member of the foundation, has publically stated that it has no more Symbian devices on its roadmap.

Engadget’s article was good timing, as I’d just spent the morning testing out some software on a Nokia N8 and X3-02. It was the first time I’d used any Nokia touch screen device (I know, I’ve missed so much) and I was very much underwhelmed. The software didn’t seem all the different to that of my old N73, which was that different to my N-Gage. As for the touch technology in Symbian, Nokia could have stuck with keyboards and buttons and made better products. I wondered what Nokia was thinking. Why continue to use an OS that was never designed to cope with the demands of today? Then I came to a conclusion: Nokia thinks that they’re Apple.

It should have been more obvious, the N8 doesn’t even have a user removable battery. But that’s not what I really mean. Nokia is trying to stand out from the crows of OEMs (Samsung, LG, HTC, Dell, Sony Ericsson, etc) that are creating hardware and using ‘generic’ OS with little or no differentiating features. It’s a problem, and I can see why Nokia is fighting it. Take the recent Windows Phone 7 launch for example – which device should you choose? Did anyone else notice that HTC launched 3 very similar phones (Trophy, Mozart and Surround)? It’s difficult to stand out in a crowd when the only thing you can offer is looks. This is possibly the very reason that Nokia won’t let go of its beloved Symbian.

If that’s true, Nokia’s got it all wrong. The benefits of using a more generic OS (Android or WP7) far outweigh the disadvantages, as today’s consumers want access to as much content as possible (which is a huge strength of such operating systems).  Further, consumers have always respected Nokia as a maker of fine hardware and very unique designs – but it’s been many years since anyone has praised Nokia for their OS efforts. Their inability to accept this has seen their market share suffer massively. Does anyone remember their 2008 pull-out from Japan?

Nokia will always have a place in the heart of the generations it touched with its incredibly popular handsets of years gone by. I can remember a time when anyone that didn’t own a Nokia was today’s equivalent of an iPhone hold-out. But those days are long gone Nokia, and it’s time that you accept that the world has changed. Kill Symbian, adopt Android and/or WP7, and save yourself.

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

White iPhone 4 delayed until Spring 2011

Next Story

Ubuntu to use Unity as default desktop system

38 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

Looks like the author of the article never read Engadget's article fully.
Last line : "Time to call Symbian dead? Far from it, but a major shake-up is starting to feel inevitable. "
Symbian would continue to be used for a reasonable amount of time till MeeGo is ready. With Qt being a focus, app compatibility across these OS'es would not be a problem.

I like Symbian for one primary reason: Consistency. Once you use a Symbian phone, you can pick any other one, and feel right at home. Beat that on any Android based phone, each manufacturer 'customizes' and 'customizes' and finally forgets about you in 6 months when Android get's an update. Great.

Have your cake and eat it too! HTC is making everything with the exception of iPhones. They appear to be doing well, Nokia should take a gander at their competitors.

very nice article...
i agree with you that symbian has not changed and the os they ship today is very similar to what they shipped years back.
but, adopting android, or wp7 would mean that the only thing 'different' they can offer is the looks of the phone. imo that is not enough to be a market leader.
i dont know what nokia should do... but im certain that adopting android/wp7 will not be sufficient for a company like that.

They should definitely kill symbian !! There is no point keeping it alive !!! Adopt Android and see how your handsets will outsell others. N8 and others have pretty good hardware but symbian as smart phone sucks !

Ugh Nokia make awful phones these days. Of all the handsets we carry, Nokia's come back for repairs an alarmingly high number of times. One range has over 60% return rate so we try steer people away from them.

Funniest of all - the E71 had multi-tasking and copy/paste straight out of the box lol. Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't Nokia still dominate in terms of 'smartphone' marketshare?

Don't get what all the fuss is about. There are different market segments out there in terms of mobile phone users, and the iPhone/Android/WP7 handsets do not cater for all of them.

For example, I don't see any cheap iPhone/Android/WP7 handsets being sold in the sub $200 pre-paid category, and given the high costs of manufacturing these touch-screen handsets I doubt you will for the next few years.

Some people actually buy phones... to use as a phone! Web browsing and playing games are not always high on the priority list for users. I daresay the ability to make a phone call quickly and efficiently without the phone dieing due to a lack of battery power should be a mandatory feature.

Personally I'm still using my Nokia E71 which is barely over a year old. And it still works a treat, and does everything I need it to. The OS is nice and snappy, and I get a good 4 days of usage out of the 1400mAH battery with full-time push email. Web browsing also ain't too bad, and it can even do a bit of flash lol.

Having said the above, my next phone will probably be a WP7 phone. But I'll be waiting for the next generation of devices for when they start to put some decent batteries in the damn things. I was quickly perusing some of the specs, and most of them have a smaller battery than my E71.

Soldiers33 said,
this is the exact reason im never getting nokia again. the symbian os is so slow and old and hasnt changed a tiny bit.

Its changed alot and more is coming

Soldiers33 said,
this is the exact reason im never getting nokia again. the symbian os is so slow and old and hasnt changed a tiny bit.

it changed a lot , see Symbian ^3

with the advent of Symbian ^4 , it would be like a new beginning

Poor article .. Are you just copying Engadget for the sake of it.

Lets change os because we don't like how it looks..

Clever!

not..

Wp7 shouldn't be on a mobile phone.
Android, well unless you want to have 1 day battery life get that. Don't want virtual i want real and android can't do that - ever.
iOS. Its a feature phone os dammit dressed up as a smartphone os ..

krustylicious said,
Poor article .. Are you just copying Engadget for the sake of it.

Lets change os because we don't like how it looks..

Clever!

not..

Wp7 shouldn't be on a mobile phone.
Android, well unless you want to have 1 day battery life get that. Don't want virtual i want real and android can't do that - ever.
iOS. Its a feature phone os dammit dressed up as a smartphone os ..

Because that's a much more thoroughly thought-out article, thanks.

JamesWeb said,
Because that's a much more thoroughly thought-out article, thanks.

Well its a suitable reply to the awful article


The benefits of using a more generic OS (Android or WP7) far outweigh the disadvantages, as today's consumers want access to as much content as possible (which is a huge strength of such operating systems).

Wp7 can't do copy and paste .. what the ....

And don't get me started on Android.

There is no business sense for Nokia to move WP7/android etc. Its Bit like VW using Fiat cars and rebranding it as VW.


that are creating hardware and using ‘generic' OS with little or no differentiating features.

Again rubbish comment. Its not even worth commenting back at it.

krustylicious said,
Again rubbish comment. Its not even worth commenting back at it.
Yet you did comment.

If you've used Symbian against any other modern OS, you'd understand exactly where I (and the majority of commentors) are coming from.

Nokia should stick to what they do best: making quality, solid hardware. Although I now proudly own an HTC Desire, I still love my old Nokia 6300. It's the best 'feeling' phone I've ever had.

I don't think it will be a smart move right now for Nokia to switch to anything but MeeGo. The N900 is an amazing device and I think Nokia should build on that to stay competitive otherwise one has to wonder if they can stand with the competition in the Android space considering how ahead HTC, Motorola and Samsung already are.

I think the major issue Nokia had was how slugish the OS was at times... I have been using Nokia and only Nokia all my life... The recent updates to MailForExchange i think gave them a massive step up from where they used to be... Issue it... Its an update to late...

Will be intresting to see how Nokia brings it self forward with this new direction... 7 powered Nokia's would be nice...

brent3000 said,
I think the major issue Nokia had was how slugish the OS was at times...

The recent s^3 phones have all a common standard platform, which now includes a gpu and which is part of the reason that the ui has been sluggish before.

i have an Nokia with Symbian S60v5 and its working and have the most stuff i want and need

the only bad thing is that its really not so much good programs out there and Nokias Ovi store its quite bad. its really annoying that you cant download from Ovi store to your phone.

the only way you can do that is to have the install file on your computer then you can that

Dinskugga said,
The only bad thing is that its really not so much good programs out there and Nokias Ovi store its quite bad. its really annoying that you cant download from Ovi store to your phone.

the only way you can do that is to have the install file on your computer then you can that


I install things from the Ovi store to my phone all the time.. Games, apps etc... Im using an n97 though so its pretty much a built in feature...

Dinskugga said,
i have an Nokia with Symbian S60v5 and its working and have the most stuff i want and need

the only bad thing is that its really not so much good programs out there and Nokias Ovi store its quite bad. its really annoying that you cant download from Ovi store to your phone.

the only way you can do that is to have the install file on your computer then you can that

You did install the ovi store app on the phone didn't you. If you had you wouldn't have written that.

I say go radical. License WebOS. Instantly make WebOS a serious player in the market as it would have serious hardware backing it up. Would force Apple, Google, and Microsoft to scramble. In the end, consumers would win. RIM is dying. Don't know what they need to save them.

asdavis10 said,
I say go radical. License WebOS. Instantly make WebOS a serious player in the market as it would have serious hardware backing it up. Would force Apple, Google, and Microsoft to scramble. In the end, consumers would win. RIM is dying. Don't know what they need to save them.

Don't think HP offers licences to other companies...

asdavis10 said,
I say go radical. License WebOS. Instantly make WebOS a serious player in the market as it would have serious hardware backing it up. Would force Apple, Google, and Microsoft to scramble. In the end, consumers would win. RIM is dying. Don't know what they need to save them.

Leave WebOS to HP thanks.

I do use symbian on a daily basis. The problems it has a) are partly solved in s^3 with the hardware that is now in place and b) will see in updates via QT.

Things like destinations not working in all apps or asking for permission to use the network etc (which should be in a prefs). The whole preference update that is sorely needed to symbian, as it now spans too many apps and for instance wifi settings are in least 3 apps (on s60 9.3 ).

The above things are "usability" which the UI never fully does well . Symbian itself isn't the problem but how Nokia presents it on the experience factor. The above issues i brought up, on a touch phone would be annoying cos its tap tap tap and then its like "oh no its not in there".

Thats doesn't mean Nokia needs Android. Far From it.

MeeGo would be the perfect replacement. Maemo would have been great too, as it is quite stable and customizable, but the lack of support and apps kills it just like Symbian.

Its why I left my e63 behind for my Android phone.
I loved the e63 for many reasons, but the OS was the reason. No real app store, having to constantly 'accept' wifi connections etc. just wasn't cutting it

MeeGo is the answer here. They can be unique and still have nice phones.

Very much looking forward to the first MeeGo phones... though as with all Nokia phones we likely won't see any on the US CDMA carriers anytime soon.

Nokia could always make an android and a meego phone. They don't have to cut their nose off to spite their face.