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Nokia taking Symbian development back in house, Foundation remains to control licensing and patents

November 8, 2010 24 comments

 

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to think that two of the three major OEM  supporters and Foundation contributors (not dissing Fujitsu here) had withdrawn from an OS that was seemingly about to fail miserably.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.

 

Rant: The death of another Symbian blog and the loss of another one of Nokia’s Evangelists

July 1, 2010 43 comments
This started out a reply to a comment posted in one of my most recent articles which posted a link to Symbian-Guru’s Ricky Cadden and Dotsisx Rita el Khoury final rants and goodbye to the Symbian-Guru website and blog. A link to the post can be found below.
You should definitely give it a read.
I’m surprised but then I’m not. It’s been a frustrating time being a Nokia user, watching symbian’s UI dying a painful death over the years with little being done to repair it. (For the most part)
It’s been painful watching Nokia not release the brilliant hardware that we all knew they were capable of, especially if you were a N97 user.
As a Nokia user in the USA I can definitely sympathize with Ricky for the most part. It’s frustrating having to explain to people that no my nokia isn’t crap, and yes it does things you wish your phone could do. And wonder to myself why Nokia isn’t at least trying to market devices over here.
I definitely understand why Ricky made the step to end the blog after reading the rant and I hope for Nokia’s sake that Nokia World 2010 provides a reason for developers to jump on the platform, proper integration of the Ovi services with awesome hardware to make the public and the blogosphere drop their collective jaws and software that catches the eye and imagination while maintaining the great functionality of Nokia’s older operating systems.
This is truly a great loss. It’s been mentioned many a time,that Nokia has been losing the people that used to evangelize and were willing to evangelize and preach their platforms to the masses, the people that spoke to an audience that for the most part Nokia has ignored. The larger blogs like Symbian-guru and World Of Nokia are shutting up shop. How soon will it be before the users themselves grow jaded with the stagnation of the manufacturer and move on. How soon before interest in blogs like these are forced to close up or widen our audience so as not to drown in a quagmire of nothingness.
Good luck in all your future endeavours guys and appreciate what you’ve contributed to the Nokia community in your 3+ years of service.

Thanks kaiwangaila for the heads up.

Video: 10 minute hands on with the Sony Ericsson Satio

June 28, 2009 1 comment

Generation The Phone House, has a 10 minute video looking at the Sony Ericsson Satio – one of the three major S60 5th Edition handsets of 2009, competing with Samsungs i8910 and Nokia’s N97.

It’s interesting to note the differences both Samsung and Sony Ericsson have done to, perhaps, improving the S60 interface – e.g. look at the Satio’s media player.

I’ve ranted about the Satio/Nokia thing before >>here<< so I won’t go over it again, except for stating my love for the imaging prowess of the Satio.

  1. Xenon.
  2. Camera/Video switch.
  3. Media button (unbelievably convenient, why Nokia took it out from the N97, I don’t know.)
  4. 16:9 photos. Takes advantage of the screen ratio, looks good on the phone, also fits most modern computer screens better (not sure if it does 16:9 video as an option, you see 4:3 though in the video)

The MP count, I actually would not have minded if it was 5 or 8, so having 12MP is rather a bonus. We’ve seen in samples it performs quite well, getting a lot more detail than the growing standard of 8MP. When you’d need that extra detail for a point and shoot maybe a rare occasion, but it’s nice to have the option.

From Generation The Phone House via blog.se-nse.net/

Video: Hands on with the Sony Ericsson Satio

June 22, 2009 2 comments

If we were to somehow rewind one year, and I was asked to think about

“what features I would have liked to have seen in a phone that would be sufficient enough to replace the imaging capabilities of the N82 entirely?”

  • Symbian S60 Touch
  • large high resolution screen
  • great camera
  • xenon (true) flash
  • dedicated camera/video switch
  • media button

–  I would not have expected that the world would see that all coming first from Sony Ericsson.

via JUSTAMP

It’s annoying because it’s not like Nokia weren’t aware people want these kinds of features. They’ve been harped on constantly, by several other consumers who voice their opinion online in their blogs or forums.

I won’t start on another xenon rant. But I will begin one about a dedicated video/camera (stills) switch/button.

It is not hard, Nokia.

You did it way back in the N93/N93i.

You made so many great steps in terms of ease with imaging (it’s just a shame that the N93 stills was absolutely pants) – dedicated flash/video light button, dedicated video/camera button and 3x optical zoom!

But we never saw this again- not even in the damn camera orientated N86! (Having said that, the N86 does have a lot of improvements to imaging which seem to be silent as they all result in improving image quality – e.g.  wide angle, improved latency, large aperture, better sensor in general so it’s really not all about more megapixels but being more efficient with the pixels you already have)

Perhaps I just need to tame my geekly cravings of the ultimate all in one and realise, the world just isn’t ready yet for such powerful convergence devices, in this case, here with imaging capabilities so great it could rival the humble point and shoot cameras.

But then, we see the likes of Sony Ericsson with the Satio which reawakens my high expectations from mobile phones. Soon imaging we’ll see another forceful phone, the Samsung m8920 – a very capable feature phone that trumps the Satio slightly with 3x optical zoom but in a possibly slimmer, better looking body than it’s previous incarnation (the “fat” G800).

So where is Nokia’s answer to these phones? Maybe there won’t be one.

Does Nokia have too much on their plate at the moment trying to sort out Symbian and fight iPhone in the software war to have any time on being at the forefront of hardware?

At the moment, it’s like Nokia’s in a confused state. Stuck in middle ground where they just aren’t particularly excelling in anything – not in software, not in hardware. Just a good, decent middle ground of slight mediocrity.

6 Page Preview of the Sony Ericsson Satio (Idou)

June 6, 2009 5 comments

When the N97 was launched, the 3.5″ 16:9 touchscreen, with S60 5th Edition were two features that I thought would remain unique to Nokia for a little while. I was certain it would be my next phone.

But so soon, we saw the Omnia HD (now i8910) from Samsung packing a bigger 3.7″ 16:9 AMOLED touchscreen, S60 5th edition with 720p HD video recording.

To make decision making worse, Sony Ericsson then informed us of the Idou (now Satio) with 3.5″ 16:9 TFT touchscreen, with Symbian Foundation (basically S60 5th edition) and 12MP with XENON flash.

gsmarena_033

Here’s GSM Arena’s preview of the Sony Ericsson Satio – (some key points below)

  • Made entirely of plastic, but very high quality
  • Screen has stunning picture quality and contrast (for a TFT)
  • NO 3.5mm jack
  • 1000mAh battery
  • S60 5th Edtition UI with Sony Ericsson Tweaks
  • Under the “stylish” lens cover are 12MP goodness with Xenon flash for stills and LED for video – Camera is nothing short of impressive

gsmarena_035

  • You can capture photos in 16:9 (at 9MP)
  • “Better” than the Samsung INNOV8 (though marginally) – there’s only two pairs of comparison shots though to judge it myself.
  • VGA video is “Splendid” even though their test version could not handle the 30FPS frame rate. Not sure if it reords in 16:9 though.
  • Improved browser in comparison to the 5800
Availability is around October 09.
Via GSM Arena
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For me, my only two options would really be down to the Satio or N97.

  • Satio purely for the Xenon – it meets my low light photography needs – the only phone out of the three that could force my N82 into retirement – also the additional 7megapixels don’t hurt – definitely more useful when copying out chapters of a text book for Uni  (quicker than scanning – cheaper than photocopying)
  • N97 for the form factor – I love the “flick” sliding screen that reveals that QWERTY keyboard, which for me, is preferable when entering text. There’s also that 32GB in built memory so it can immediately hold a  significant proportion of my music library with space for several movies to spare – and it’s further expandable with memory card. Finally the “homescreen” experience – I didn’t think much of this the first time I saw it, but now I see it has a lot of potential and usability.

Hello Satio! Idou released as Sony Ericsson Satio

May 29, 2009 3 comments

sony-ericsson-satio-13.5″ Screen, Symbian Foundation, 12MP with Xenon flash – a combination you’d expect from Nseries devices, yet this is being brought to us by Sony Ericsson. Known by many as the Idou, Sony Ericsson now officially launches ther flagship device as the Satio.

Expected in Q4, this multimedia marvel is a worthy rival to both Samsung’s i8910 Omnia HD and of course, Nokia’s N97.

Which phone is best, depends on what’s best for you, i.e. what fits your needs. I’m pretty smitten with the form factor/keyboard of the N97 and plan to do a lot of mobile blogging when I get that device.

Why not get a device that’s more QWERTY based then? e.g. HTC Touch Pro2. Well I also want the balance of multimedia features which those lack – whereas, although dated, you get a decent 5MP camera and widescreen VGA video recording, 32GB on board memory and widgets.

I’ve mentioned this a million times, but had the N97 been endowed with Xenon, that would have given it more flexibility as an imaging device. After all, megapixels isn’t everything; it’s how effectively you use those pixels.

via mobile gazette

Nokia N97 vs Samsung Omnia HD vs Sony Ericsson Idou

February 23, 2009 15 comments

Nokia N97 vs Samsung Omnia HD vs Sony Ericsson Idou

I was all set on the N97 until a three way ruckus broke out with the Omnia HD and Idou both diving in to join the Super-Mobile-Convergence-Device war.

Samsung and Sony Ericsson have extremely strong contenders, with:

The Omnia HD packing in a most gorgeous 3.7” AMOLED display, Symbian S60 V 5.0, 8MP camera and 720p 24fps widescreen HD video recording and

The code-named Idou, bringing in 3.5” widescreen display, as well as Symbian S60 V 5.0 and a 12MP camera with Xenon.

They all run on Symbian S60 V 5.0; even with their own specific interface ‘quirks’, they should all be pretty similar to each other. We’ll just have to see when they’re all at production level to see who makes the most to bring the best user friendly and innovative interface.

Is the 32GB of memory and physical keyboard enough to keep you from straying to the Samsung or Sony-Ericsson camp? We’ve seen most of the wow features on the N97 along while ago from the aged classic that is the N95 announced in 2006! On-board GPS, A2DP, 3G, HSDPA, WiFi, 5MP Carl Zeiss camera with LED flash, 3.5mm audio/tv out jack (most of which the mass public easily overlooked). Whilst the N95 was ahead of its time for quite a while the N97 which hasn’t even hit the shops is already flanked by two other very powerful rivals.

It seems it won’t be long until the hardware battle becomes saturated, all phones being more or less identical in shape, size and features where everything will come down to who’s providing the best software, online services and community/ecosystem interaction.

So, in this combat of flagships, do any pack enough artillery to sink the infamous iPhone? Or will that be accomplished by the elusive Palm Pré, or perhaps an Android?

N95 is scarred. P1i to the rescue?

September 17, 2007 2 comments

After 7 months of being it utmost pristine condition, I find my N95 to have an unsightly gash below its secondary camera.

I have no idea how that happened. Found it Saturday morning on the way home. It used to be in either a pouch or a crystal case. The pouch keeps getting lost and the crystal case…well that just breaks after a while (most hate them for the simple fact that they’re just too bulky) so my N95 ended up with neither. Just hopefully keeping my right pocket clear of any coins/keys and other abrasive objects. Well that worked up until that Saturday.

Over at “Just Another Phone Blog”  there’s a very normal looking Sony Ericsson P1i. What’s special about it is that it sports a very discreet protective layer.

No it’s not an invisible force shield, it’s this super thin transparent plastic.

It looks almost laminated. I wonder how they managed to slip that on. Whilst nothing can be done about that blemish on my N95’s face, something like this could possible help prevent anymore damange in future.

Anyone know it it would be possible for the N95 to have something like this?

– JUSTAMP