After a few months off the grid, I thought it best to offer a short post to show Jay, Andre and the rest of the MNB gang that I’m still around…
With my next upgrade coming up in the first few months of 2011, I’ve been pondering my options for my next handset. I’m keen to stick with a Nokia handset, and was hoping that by the time 18 months had passed after buying my N900 that something that truly excites me would come along. I’ll share some of my thinking with you…
On Christmas eve-eve we saw that Android 2.3 had been successfully ported to the N900 via the NITDroid project.
Below we can see N900 with Smooth Gingerbread action. Cheers Keith for the heads up!
Demoed features include:
- Web Browser
- Akwardly small portrait keyboard (is that the landscape keyboard just in wrong orientation?)
Following similar attempts by other mobile software houses like Google and Apple, Nokia and Intel’s MeeGo is being targeted at products above and beyond the phone and tablet form factors that we’re all so interested in. Much like Google’s offerings, MeeGo has been adopted and trialed in a number of instances including set-top boxes. The video after the break shows a demonstration of a TV based solution by Amino demonstrated at the Intel Developer Forum in September of this year.
I think all of us here have borne witness to this, major US/UK blogs and their stance towards Nokia, Symbian and anything smartphone related originating outside of the US, the exceptions being HTC and Samsung for reasons obvious to anyone with eyes. The question is why? Why is it that Nokia get constantly lambasted for doing ANYTHING or mocked for coming to the table too late while the others are constantly praised for doing admittedly mundane things (Facetime anyone?) . This post/rant is intended to look at common criticisms leveled at Nokia and by proxy, Symbian, each of which will be evaluated as best as possible by yours truly. Let’s get started then!
As mentioned before in the press release Jay posted, and has been rumored in the blogosphere for quite a while, it seems that Nokia and the Symbian board have taken a decisive step towards improving the Symbian OS, speeding up time to market, improving developer and OEM relations and at the same time cut out some of the bureaucracy that has held Symbian development up for so long. This move was hinted at when Lee Williams stepped down from the Symbian Foundation as executive director and was replaced by Tim Holbrow (former CFO) with rumors circling that winding down operations would commence imminently. It seems that such a guess was not far off the mark.
I’m certain that a large percentage of people in the blogosphere are now shouting at the top of their voices that Symbian is dead, Nokia is down the toilet and are doomed and that Symbian has no place in the smartphone market (Engadget commenters are truly remarkable no?). But I’d have to respectfully say that they are patently wrong. Below I’ll outline a few of the reasons why this change has happened and what the future may/may not hold for Symbian development in light of current news.
One of the most telling statements concerning Symbian development were the announcements of Sony Ericsson (SE) and Samsung, that they were discontinuing Symbian development and had no plans for the continued support and/or production of Symbian devices. Looking at those two announcements in a vacuum one might be inclined to think that two of the three major OEM supporters and Foundation contributors (not dissing Fujitsu here) had withdrawn from an OS that was seemingly about to fail miserably.
Looking at the situation in context however, yields a starkly different story. Having tracked code package submissions to the Symbian Foundation from the fledgling days of S^2 & S^3, I’d yet to see any significant contributions of code by either company. While that’s not to say they didn’t provide any monetary support, the fact that the entire idea of the foundation was to distribute work amongst large companies with significant resources in the hope of faster iterating the OS than any single company could possibly achieve. Unfortunately for the Symbian Foundation, this was not to be, and Nokia has and will continue to contribute the VAST majority of the code.
Worse still, Android came along whereby OEM’s could get a free ride in essence, contributing little if any code, little if any monetary support while getting an OS that they could basically flash onto the base hardware provided by Qualcomm and run with it. While that’s not to say that this is a “bad” approach, in some ways it leaves the OEM’s at the mercy of Google’s whim and provides no real benefit, in the long term at least, for OEM’s looking to differentiate, grow profits significantly and control their own fates.
Android also had the benefit of provided an app store that integrated directly into the OS in the form of Android Marketplace, something that Symbian had categorically lacked before 2008. When Nokia came out with the Ovi Store in 2009, it became clearer still to all OEM’s involved with Symbian that not only could they not compete with Nokia in terms of hardware costs, reliability and scale, but they also couldn’t compete in terms of value added services to Symbian OS. Worse still, Symbian Horizon, which would have been the go-to application repository for Symbian applications for all OEM’s, failed spectacularly leaving Samsung and SE high and dry with regards to added services, through no fault of the Symbian Foundation of course.
NB. Symbian in it’s base implementation comes without mapping applications and application stores
Having realized that there would be no financial benefit in sticking around, both companies decided to jump ship to an OS where all the work was done for them and they simply needed to toss an OS on some hardware and meet some nebulous requirements concerning the use of Google services and market and they’d be just peachy.
The second most telling statement made was by Nokia where they said that they had no intentions of sticking to the large-scale generational changes to the Symbian platform formerly known as S^3, S^4.x , S^5 etc and that they would be sticking to continuous, smaller scale improvements to what they would call “Symbian” with most recent devices getting the changes initially slated for the generational S^4 release. Furthermore, they publicly stated that Symbian development would give way to Qt development, in essence both dog-fooding and relegation of Symbian C++ to legacy status.
In hindsight, these events in addition to the rapid pace of development of both software and hardware in the mobile sphere has led to the predicament the Foundation has faced, and thusly the decision made in the conference call and board meetings today.
On the bright side of course, SEE2010 begins tomorrow with the MeeGo conference slated for the following week. Here’s to hoping for at least SOME positive news and seeing positive strides being taken in both domains. Keep your browsers pointed here for more news on both Expos in coming days.
Well I tried it and by God does it work wonders. The Engadget homepage that would take an age to load and render and would require me to manually stop the loading in order to even use it half-way properly finished loading in a matter of seconds and scrolled magnificently, regardless of the measly 434Mhz processor. Those of you with N8’s or other Symbian powered devices are urged to try this for yourself to see just how big a difference this minute change can make to the general usability of the browser.
This improved web browser would also have the knock-on effect of improving all WRT based applications and widgets, including the Social and FourSquare apps. Just food for thought.
The current browser on my 5800 gets a Sunspider score of ~130,000 as compared to a Motoral Droid with a score of ~34,000 ms (Higher is worse!) and I from results I’ve seen around the internet, processor speed is nigh on irrelevant in this case.
Well that’s something none of us expected. Given Nokia’s push for MeeGo as their singular high-end solution to compete with (read: crush) iOS and Android and the amount of buzz that has been generated both within and external to the company about this coming OS, it’s rather surprising that one of the most important men in charge of bringing these much-vaunted devices to the public is stepping down. This after 12 years at Nokia both on mobile browser development as well with Maemo/MeeGo and associated open source initiatives. I’m sure that the loss will be strongly felt within the company when he does indeed depart but we can rest assured that most of the work surrounding the upcoming MeeGo devices was probably finished in advance of the tendering of his resignation.
NB It takes around 12-24 months to create and productise any mobile device from concept to shipping.
Here’s to hoping that political and/or bureaucratic issues didn’t force Ari out and that he’s simply making use of the current period of transition in order to pursue new opportunities.
This news does make you wonder though, with 3 senior Finns leaving the company in relatively quick succession, does this signal a marked change in the type of thinking, management and communication that we can expect to see from the company in the future. Or is this a case of rats fleeing a sinking ship? Leave your opinions in the comments section