Feeds

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

Old girl needn't be finished yet

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

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. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Microsoft boots 1,500 dodgy apps from the Windows Store
DEVELOPERS! DEVELOPERS! DEVELOPERS! Naughty, misleading developers!
Apple promises to lift Curse of the Drained iPhone 5 Battery
Have you tried turning it off and...? Never mind, here's a replacement
Mozilla's 'Tiles' ads debut in new Firefox nightlies
You can try turning them off and on again
Linux turns 23 and Linus Torvalds celebrates as only he can
No, not with swearing, but by controlling the release cycle
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
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?