Feeds

Nokia puts Symbian out to pasture ... why not release it into the wild?

Old girl needn't be finished yet

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Symbian is now in 'maintenance mode', and Belle FP2 was its last ever update, Nokia Developer support is telling devs.

This is hardly a surprise, but official confirmation of any kind has been elusive.

As we exclusively revealed back in February, Nokia cancelled the entire roadmap of Symbian phones, leaving just one device: the PureView 808. Large layoffs of remaining Nokia Symbian engineers took place in spring and early summer. Whether there's anyone left to do the 'maintenance' - or shake the mothballs - either at Nokia or Accenture, is an open question.

We now know that Nokia management conceded that Symbian couldn't cut the mustard, thanks to years of accumulated userland cruft, by the end of 2008. But it couldn't get Symbian's anointed replacement Maemo/Meego to market quickly enough. So it missed the opportunity of making a managed, orderly transition from Symbian to Linux using Qt as a bridge.

Then, when Stephen Elop CEO announced the partnership with Microsoft, sales of Symbian devices fell of a cliff. Nokia had hoped that Symbian sales would gradually decline over a two-year period: it expected to ship 150 million Symbian phones following the February 2011 strategy shift. Sales of Symbian smartphones at that point were over 25 million per quarter and increasing. But it has barely managed half that.

So Nokia revised last year's software roadmap, which envisaged four updates to Symbian, which had by then been renamed, with the Symbian moniker disappearing. (The first two revisions were Nokia Anna and Nokia Belle. Now, Belle Feature Pack 2 (FP2) will be the last to include new features.

'How to hold the phone':
from the Nokia 7710 User's Guide (2005)

Most of Nokia's Symbian engineers were spun out to Accenture, where they've been laid off or reassigned. Nokia revealed yesterday that Symbian devices still managed to outsell Windows-powered Lumias, by 3.4 million to 2.9 million, in Q3.

Bye, then

The OS made its debut in a commercially available product in 1997, giving it a 15-year run on the market, and it has since powered more than 400 million devices, at a rough estimate. Which is not too shabby.

And underneath the crufty UI and bloat, there's still a remarkably reliable, low-power, real-time OS kernel. Nokia could do worse than release it into the wild, where it could spend its final days in really useful little devices.

For our history of the birth of the OS, see this in-depth feature from 2007, published three days before Apple launched its iPhone, funnily enough. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Euro Parliament VOTES to BREAK UP GOOGLE. Er, OK then
It CANNA do it, captain.They DON'T have the POWER!
Download alert: Nearly ALL top 100 Android, iOS paid apps hacked
Attack of the Clones? Yeah, but much, much scarier – report
NSA SOURCE CODE LEAK: Information slurp tools to appear online
Now you can run your own intelligence agency
Post-Microsoft, post-PC programming: The portable REVOLUTION
Code jockeys: count up and grab your fabulous tablets
Twitter App Graph exposes smartphone spyware feature
You don't want everyone to compile app lists from your fondleware? BAD LUCK
Microsoft adds video offering to Office 365. Oh NOES, you'll need Adobe Flash
Lovely presentations... but not on your Flash-hating mobe
prev story

Whitepapers

10 ways wire data helps conquer IT complexity
IT teams can automatically detect problems across the IT environment, spot data theft, select unique pieces of transaction payloads to send to a data source, and more.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence
Download Choosing a Cloud Hosting Provider with Confidence to learn more about cloud computing - the new opportunities and new security challenges.