Symbian is dead, long live Symbian

This is the news that tipped me into starting this blog:
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/06/24/andrew_on_symbian/

The inevitable has happened. Nokia finally swallowed Symbian. They bought almost a controlling stake in Symbian when I was still working for Symbian, 4-5 years ago. Back in those days, Nokia was becoming more and more tighly coupled with Symbian. Nokia was Symbian’s biggest licensee, biggest customer, selling the majority of Symbian powered devices.

But there was one problem. Symbian was own by a consortium of licensees/customers. And the more Nokia was selling, the more unsettling the rest of the customers. The no-brainer: “You can’t differentiate if you’re using the same stuff as your competitors.”. And Symbian’s owners were all competing with each other.

Among the first to bail out was Motorola. They were betting on Linux and some Windows Mobile. In the end, Nokia and Sony Ericsson were the main licensees/customers and that’s because they’ve already made huge investments in the UIs: S60/S90 and UIQ.
NTT Docomo and Fujitsu were however big success stories for Symbian in Japan. And they will still continue to be.

Back when I use to work for Symbian, there was a close cooperation between Nokia and Symbian, although the communication wasn’t very good and Nokia was seen by the symbianites as a very pragmatic customer, sometimes unreasonable in its desire to cut corners for the benefits of more sales and time to market, and in some cases even canibalising the platform for its own purposes.
Nokia was really the only main driver in terms of requirements. And they were paying dosh for that.

There’s a sense of inevitability about the whole thing.

Personally I will follow the development of this with interest as I’m curious:
1. how many people will be made redundant (as Symbian and Nokia have many potential synergies in their operations
2. how will Nokia make any money by open sourcing the OS (probably they won’t)
3. how many licensees/customers will drop Symbian (Sony Ericsson already seems to be firing half of its UIQ team – sad really)
4. how will Symbian compete with the iPhone and Google’s Android, the latter being no doubt the cause of all this (Google is planning to give the Android for free and make it open source)
5. how the whole open-source model work
6. how has the code change since I’ve left 😉

 

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