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Nokia to cull Symbian in 2012

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Nokia says it will replace Symbian with its Maemo Linux by 2012.

All high-end N series multimedia devices will be running the Linux OS by then. Rubbing salt in the wounds of longtime Epoc developers, it disclosed the news to a meetup of Maemo enthusiasts – Ben Smith reports at The Really Mobile Project blog. X series and E series devices will continue to run Symbian OS – at least for the time being.

It isn’t such a surprise. At NokiaWorld in September, Nokia confirmed in public and in private that Maemo was the bedrock for future high-end devices, with Symbian downgraded to a “workhorse” smartphone OS for the midrange. Only a fortnight earlier, Nokia had strenuously denied the strategy. So much for honest community relations.

So, after billions of dollars of investment over 11 years, how can Nokia now justify changing horses? Especially since Symbian still offers the best kernel and middleware stack for mobiles, with the meanest power management, and years of debugging.

It's Nokia’s inept record of developing UIs and services (think anything with the word “Ovi” near it) that's to blame, and also its negligence in failing to give Symbian a modern and attractive development environment (it bought Trolltech’s QT five years too late). Thanks to lousy software development, it had boxed itself into a corner. Only four years ago, Nokia had three in-house user interfaces for Symbian which - if it had sustained the investment - would cover everything from tablets to instant-on netbooks (where iPhone OS and Android OS are today).

It’s a case of neglecting to feed the dog, then saying it can’t afford the vet’s bill. ®

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