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Nokia accidentally unveils OS it should have had in 2009

Shy, lovely Symbian Belle debutante expected

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Nokia is expected to unveil the a major refresh of its Symbian OS today, bringing it bang up to date with competitive phones from two years ago. Owners of more recent Symbian^3 models should be able to update their handsets eventually.

Nokia unveiled a teaser for a mystery announcement of "something new for Symbian" on Monday. But in a typical cockup, the teaser itself solved the mystery, with a Flash file located in a directory called "https://facebookapps.nokia.com/belle/teaser/belle_fb_TeaserMain.swf" .

Four new devices are expected to be unveiled – either today, or very shortly.

The Belle update should keep loyalists happy for some time to come. Performance and usability appear to have been improved greatly. A new Android-like notifications UI is evident, a very malleable home screen improves on the clumsy and archaic rigid widgets. Scrolling and switching between apps is smoother. There's also a new camera UI. In short, there's nothing here to repel users in the way previous models have done. Nokia went into battle with a cumbersome UI and under-specced hardware, and saw Android-rivals steal its market share.


But timing is everything, which both Meego and Symbian have discovered long after they should have done – and after the company switched strategy. They're too late to help Nokia build an "ecosystem" of developers and content companies around the platforms. Even if Nokia's software managers and their visionary strategic bosses hadn't let the company down so badly, it would still have been a challenge getting mindshare from Apple and Google. ®

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