Feeds

Developers twitchy as wait for Symbian^3 goes on and on

Nokia promises improvements with N8, but new OS will take time to gain momentum

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Nokia's forthcoming N8 smartphone will certainly have market leading hardware specs, but the real challenge for the firm is to convince developers of its software credentials.

It is promising improved developer tools, Ovi Store experience and user experience for the N8, drawing on the new open source release of Symbian. But until the product is in developers' hands for real, they are in wait-and-see mode, and this threatens to erode the market lead of the existing Symbian platforms.

Countering a much quoted analysis by BusinessWeek, pointing to the impact of developer uncertainty on Symbian momentum, Nokia's VP of products and media, George Linardos, told Bloomberg there would be a "big improvement in terms of the Ovi Store experience with the introduction of the N8", expected to be the first commercial handset running Symbian^3 (though Samsung may pip it to the post). However, he agreed that creating the perfect store and developer experience was a work in progress - "I look at this as the first innings of a very, very long game," he said.

This is a realistic view - Symbian^3 is not just an update but a complete reworking of the OS, and both the standard and Nokia's implementation of it will promise dramatic improvements in user interfaces, apps performance, cross-platform tools and so on. But, for smaller developers in particular, mature systems come with lower risk and greater familiarity than the most advanced new ones, and changing a well established platform, while necessary, is risky.

iPhone is now mature and proven, and Apple has been careful to tinker with the OS rather than dramatically enhance it. Android, after two years of uncertainty and gradual evolution, remains fluid but is gaining confidence and a strong device base. Symbian^3 will take at least a year to achieve the same position, and much of the success of its efforts will rely on how well Nokia, its leading supporter, implements it (Android's breakthrough came with attractive vendor implementations like HTC Sense, not the vanilla Google/OHA platform).

Gartner analyst Nick Jones told Bloomberg: "We may have to wait until Symbian^4 to get a really compelling Symbian device, so that the ecosystem may not start to achieve its full potential until 2011."

The long wait for the upgraded platform, combined with uncertainty about what that will deliver, have dented interest in both Symbian and Windows Mobile. Symbian's smartphone market share was 44.3% in the first quarter, the first time it has gone below 45%, and down from almost 49% a year earlier. Of course, this is a massive market lead on which to build, but it will be important for Symbian^3 to score some high profile points in its first quarter - attracting the kind of visible early adopters, among advanced end users and developers, that instilled confidence in Android and iPhone even in their early months, when their actual market share was tiny.

Copyright © 2010, Wireless Watch

Wireless Watch is published by Rethink Research, a London-based IT publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter delivers in-depth analysis and market research of mobile and wireless for business. Subscription details are here.

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Microsoft on the Threshold of a new name for Windows next week
Rebranded OS reportedly set to be flung open by Redmond
'In... 15 feet... you will be HIT BY A TRAIN' Google patents the SPLAT-NAV
Alert system tips oblivious phone junkies to oncoming traffic
Apple: SO sorry for the iOS 8.0.1 UPDATE BUNGLE HORROR
Apple kills 'upgrade'. Hey, Microsoft. You sure you want to be like these guys?
SMASH the Bash bug! Apple and Red Hat scramble for patch batches
'Applying multiple security updates is extremely difficult'
ARM gives Internet of Things a piece of its mind – the Cortex-M7
32-bit core packs some DSP for VIP IoT CPU LOL
Lotus Notes inventor Ozzie invents app to talk to people on your phone
Imagine that. Startup floats with voice collab app for Win iPhone
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.