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

New hybrid storage solutions

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.

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

More from The Register

next story
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
'Windows 9' LEAK: Microsoft's playing catchup with Linux
Multiple desktops and live tiles in restored Start button star in new vids
iOS 8 release: WebGL now runs everywhere. Hurrah for 3D graphics!
HTML 5's pretty neat ... when your browser supports it
Mathematica hits the Web
Wolfram embraces the cloud, promies private cloud cut of its number-cruncher
Google extends app refund window to two hours
You now have 120 minutes to finish that game instead of 15
Mozilla shutters Labs, tells nobody it's been dead for five months
Staffer's blog reveals all as projects languish on GitHub
SUSE Linux owner Attachmate gobbled by Micro Focus for $2.3bn
Merger will lead to mainframe and COBOL powerhouse
iOS 8 Healthkit gets a bug SO Apple KILLS it. That's real healthcare!
Not fit for purpose on day of launch, says Cupertino
Profitless Twitter: We're looking to raise $1.5... yes, billion
We'll spend the dosh on transactions, biz stuff 'n' sh*t
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
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.