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In the Face of Android, Why Should Nokia Stick With MeeGo? 336

Posted by timothy
from the worse-name-than-gimp dept.
GMGruman writes "In September, Symbian 3 was Nokia's latest great hope for becoming relevant in the modern smartphone market. Now comes word that the Symbian Foundation is shutting down, ending the Symbian 3 and Symbian 4 efforts. Nokia is now banking on MeeGo, a collaboration with Intel whose release date — and fit to smartphones — is highly uncertain. InfoWorld's Ted Samson thinks that it's time for Nokia to swallow its pride and stop pretending it will ship MeeGo in time to matter, and instead consider adopting Android — or even Windows Phone 7, which after all might finally support copy and paste by the time Nokia decides to hitch its mobile wagon to a new horse."
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In the Face of Android, Why Should Nokia Stick With MeeGo?

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  • maybe (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dropadrop (1057046) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @04:23AM (#34002466)
    I would imagine Nokia feels ditching their own OS would just make them hardware manufacturers, not so different from a large portion of their competition. Add to this that in a certain sense Google has probably partially made Android to ensure that no one manufacturer has a dominating position in the mobile market, and Nokia will suffer from that (Google can ensure products follow standards better when there are a lot of small players vs. one big one).
    • by sznupi (719324) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @04:56AM (#34002602) Homepage

      Seems the news is just that the Foundation might not continue operating in its current legal framework (which depended on few other entities apart from Nokia, and now that they are gone...). But that doesn't lead to S^3 effort ending, as TFS claims (S^4 apparently is, somewhat - only in the sense that, instead of one big future release, its features will be pushed gradually to existing devices; a change for the better IMHO)

      Symbian isn't going anywhere - it has greater share of sales than the next two players combined; when taking number 2 player out of the equation, greater share than all what's rest combined. Might very well be the first smartphone platform to break the barrier of 100 million devices shipped annually, this year.

      All this ignoring the modus operandi of Nokia. Is S40 dead? (checking...) No, it's the most widespread mobile phone platform in the world. Heck, even S30 sells quite a few units. Symbian will be around for a long time, just in price segments where S40 was for large part of the last decade.

      Those segments aren't going away. If anything, the market seems to be getting more diverse than the simplistic "everybody will want either 'true' (for the current definition of 'true') smartphone or something ultra low cost" - but it's probably hard for pundits in few atypical (but highly visible) markets to notice some crucial segments; most of those people have smartphones...

      Smartphones which still sit at around 20% of total shipments. Have been sitting close to that for a few years. People are generally happy with slick UI, touch screen, good web browsing (heck, Chinese makers are starting to integrate even full Opera Mobile), few widgets - "smartphone" doesn't need to enter the equation, as fabulously popular "feature phone" touchscreen mobiles from Samsung and LG have shown recently (those phones from Samsung are why they might be level in marketshare with Nokia by the end of the year, not smartphones)

      As for Android...heck, who knows. Though probably "MeeGo-fied/Qt-fied", to share at least their custom apps with Symbian, to have the same widget engine available (the W3C one, iirc). But they are profitable, in Q3 their revenue has risen, at #1 marketshare it doesn't make sense to willingly get relegated to the status of PC makers (vs. MS/provider of OS). Why Samsung pushes also bada OS (indeed almost a direct continuation of their wildly successful TouchWiz handsets). BTW, funny how MediaTek was apparently almost blocked for some time from participating in Android, by Qualcomm; funny times ahead, now that MT releases their solution for Android soon.

      • by rtfa-troll (1340807) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @06:49AM (#34002956)

        Symbian isn't going anywhere - it has greater share of sales than the next two players combined; when taking number 2 player out of the equation, greater share than all what's rest combined. Might very well be the first smartphone platform to break the barrier of 100 million devices shipped annually, this year.

        The thing about Symbian is it really doesn't seem to be going anywhere; in the other sense. The other smartphone OSs; Android and iOS, and even Maemo/Meego, are designed to establish platforms. New Symbian versions consistently fail to run software from old versions. Symbian phones always seem very locked in; for example it used to be difficult to just connect the phone and directly access the whole of it's file system (at best you got a few specific directories). I think that's improved now, but similar stories apply all around. etc.

        What this means is, that the number of symbian devices is irrelevant. Even if Gartner's numbers [arstechnica.com] are a bit exaggerated, it's clear most of those devices are not selling software; are not being used as smart phones and just don't count. Your addressable market for smart phone applications (the main meaningful thing about a "smart phone") is not the number of phones, but the number of phones that are actually being used in a smart way. This determines the amount that other people are investing in the platform and so it's long term future value.

        Nokia could fix this by making sure that it delivered software updates for it's old phones and ensuring backwards application compatibility. This would mean that it would only support one software version over all it's phones and would mean that Symbian apps would become much more valuable. I'd assume, though, that there's something in Symbian or in the way Nokia uses symbian. which makes this impractical.

        • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

          by gbjbaanb (229885)

          The thing about Symbian is it really doesn't seem to be going anywhere; in the other sense

          You could say the same thing about Windows. Saying it still won't change the world for quite a few years, don't be fooled into thinking the entire world now wants Android phones (good though they are). Incremental updates and a vast target market will keep them relevant for a long time.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by sznupi (719324)

          But that's again trying a bit to define what we're looking at in a way which results in a very narrow view.

          How many years do we hear "symbian is dying" while it consistently ships most units and gains most sales, in number of handsets, year after year? ("percentage of growth" might be deceiving when one player is much closer to the absolute limit of "number of all mobile phones sold" than the rest) Oh, "but they aren't used how I say they should be!"? What?...

          It won't matter much anyway when the smarthphone

        • by zippthorne (748122) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @09:55AM (#34003934) Journal

          I'd assume, though, that there's something in Symbian or in the way Nokia uses symbian. which makes this impractical.

          Indeed there is: cell companies adopted a strategy early on of "never, never, never deliver software updates to old phones" where "old" is "already purchased." If your phone didn't have annoying bugs in it, what would encourage you to get a new one after the 18-24 month financing deal was up, and lock in a new plan?

          In a sense, their "software update" plan has always been, "buy a new phone"

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Smartphone unit sales out of global mobile phone sales accounted for 10 percent in 2007, 11.4 percent in 2008, and 14.4 percent in 2009. They haven't been holding steady at 20 percent market share since 2007. That doesn't even compute with the addition of new players iPhone and Android. Do you think purchasers of those devices only cannibalized from RIM and Symbian?

        Smartphones had 18 percent year over year growth in 2008 and 25 percent in 2009 compared to an overall slight decline in total mobile phone ship

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by sznupi (719324)

          Don't forget to mention the projections from, IIRC, around 2007 telling how they were supposed to be at around 35% right about now. The growth is quite gradual, and like that for many years (might look slightly different from the perspective of few atypical markets which were previously mostly deprived of smartphones by carriers and fed with very locked down handsets)

          Of course, it would help if we had any sensible definition - given how SE A200 "feature phones" have even full multitasking for several years,

    • Re:maybe (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rtfa-troll (1340807) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @06:27AM (#34002906)

      I think it's more than that. For example, Nokia is Europe based; it has a strong respect for the privacy of it's customers through not gathering data which doesn't really fit directly into Google's way of doing things. Note; I'm not saying that Google lacks respect, just that they do it from a completely different base. They assume they own your data and then voluntarily give you back most of your privacy (compare with e.g. Facebook which just doesn't bother to give you back your privacy.. "Deal with it Bitch"). Nokia has to start from a base of asking for permission to data which they assume you own. I think that in a Google led environment would strongly disadvantage Nokia compared to other companies which would be happy to gather all their customers data and/or hand it over to Google. Adroid was never designed to work for Nokia and there are probably plenty of other things like that which just won't be a good fit.

      Also, if you think that Google is a big target for Java patent attacks that's nothing to Nokia. Nokia almost certainly already has agreements in place that it would be breaking by delivering a java execution environment which isn't compliant to Oracle's spec etc. etc.

      Nokia could go with Android, but only if Google agreed to give them a serious level of long term influence over the platform. That's not something I guess Google would do and it's probably not something Google should do.

      Nokia needs to do something it hasn't had the guts for for years; commit to Meego; promise that Meego will be available for at least seven years, no matter what market success it has for the first couple of years; limit Symbian to the low end; be clear about where it's going; have a vision of a bigger market and see that it's mobile expertise will only be relevant if it can apply them to devices which have the same level of flexibility as a general computer. Commit to delivering low cost Meego devices soon. Make sure that Meego will be available on all pre-existing N700/N800/N900 devices so that there is a guaranteed base market from the very beginning. Even better; if possible provide a Meego upgrade for N97 and above devices. Build up a developer "eco-system" and make sure that you look after it. This will mean that people will be able to believe in the future of Meego.

      • Re:maybe (Score:4, Informative)

        by digitalchinky (650880) <dtchky@gmail.com> on Sunday October 24, 2010 @07:00AM (#34002996)

        You don't quite know the reality of privacy, Nokia, and asking. These days they don't ask. They make it compulsory. While they may not openly use the data they collect in ways that are immediately obvious, they absolutely do collect data that most would consider even more private than the stuff they hand over to google.

        One Word (okay technically two) "MyNokia" - on Symbian and Maemo handsets the OS forces you to send a text message back to Nokia the first time you turn it on - the payload - IMEI and a bunch of other handset specific information. The Maemo community reacted quite badly to this - The response from Nokia was to suck it up because everyone loves to sell their soul in return for daily text spam.

        Android already runs on the N900, a few rough edges, but it's almost good enough to use as a replacement OS.

        MeeGo - everyone forgets about Maemo - it exists right now, it is good. MeeGo is an arse about face rewrite to fit somewhere between Android and iOS. Obviously Nokia was a little bit smug and now has to play catchup for a few years. It's not like the writing wasn't on the wall though.

        • Re:maybe (Score:5, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 24, 2010 @08:47AM (#34003574)

          This is wrong. I have an N900 and it's entirely voluntary to register with MyNokia. There is even an application available for N900 to disable/block the entire MyNokia feature. I know because I have it installed :)

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by cibyr (898667)

            Did you get your N900 with PR1.2 already installed, did you install the PR1.2 update via SSU or did you install it via the firmware flasher?

            When I installed PR1.2 via SSU (how most users install updates; it's essentially a nice GUI on top of APT), after the reboot up popped a modal dialog asking me to accept the MyNokia T&Cs. The *only* way to dismiss this dialog is to accept the T&Cs, at which point it sends an SMS to Nokia. Sure, you can opt-out later, but by that point Nokia already has the data.

        • Re:maybe (Score:5, Insightful)

          by duguk (589689) <dug@@@frag...co...uk> on Sunday October 24, 2010 @10:50AM (#34004402) Homepage Journal

          Android already runs on the N900, a few rough edges, but it's almost good enough to use as a replacement OS.

          If you're only looking to use basic functionality, (ignoring the stuff unsupported in Android). Meego and Maemo are both vastly superior in the functionality for expert users.

          It's like comparing Windows to Linux; Windows is easier for the general populace, Linux is for those who know what they want. They're really not comparable.

          I suggest the following change to the headline: "In the Face of Windows, Why Should Linus Stick With Linux?"

          What the hell ever happened to choice being a good thing, anyway?

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Rexdude (747457)
          MyNokia is a voluntary, free SMS service that sends you tips and tricks on using your phone. In India receiving SMS is free, so it's not like we're being forced to pay to read them. The service is enabled by default when you purchase a new phone, but you can turn it off and won't be bothered again. I bought my N8 a couple of weeks ago- when I inserted my SIM card and booted up the phone, it greeted me with my Ovi account username and asked to enter my password to enable the Ovi services on the phone. It re
      • by Culture20 (968837)

        I think it's more than that. For example, Nokia is Europe based

        More than that; they're from Linus' country. Linux is like the national operating system kernel.

    • Re:maybe (Score:5, Interesting)

      by RichiH (749257) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @06:53AM (#34002978) Homepage

      > Google can ensure products follow standards better

      Pray tell me: Whose standards will those products follow once there is only one mobile OS that matters?

      • Re:maybe (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Bill_the_Engineer (772575) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @09:07AM (#34003694)

        Excellent point. I wish I could mod you up.

        Whose standards will those products follow once there is only one mobile OS that matters?

        Easy! Google's of course.

        Just like Microsoft gave us standard's... I can't finish the sentence.

        From what I see, standards are not very high in Google's agenda. Dalvik the non-standard bastard step-child of Java, and Flash the proprietary home-run of Adobe's are what I see as talking points for Android. Not that HTML5 isn't a priority for Google.

        Of course standards are what companies use until they reach a dominate position, then they become the de facto standard.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          My point was competition keeps everybody in check. I not particularly happy with the wording in the parent quote.
    • Re:maybe (Score:4, Insightful)

      by frisket (149522) <peter AT silmaril DOT ie> on Sunday October 24, 2010 @08:14AM (#34003408) Homepage

      I would imagine Nokia feels ditching their own OS would just make them hardware manufacturers, not so different from a large portion of their competition.

      That's certainly possible, but this goes beyond Symbian and MeeGo. There is the whole fiasco which was Maemo.

      With the N700 and N800, Nokia had the foundation for a viable, sustainable, open platform for the development of pocket computing, to which they could have added phone capability. Very little needed fixing (mainly the webcam, for which there was never any software except Nokia's own webchat, which no-one used). Instead, they failed to recognise the market, ignored the users completely, and came out with the N900, which was a phone with a hobbled PDA platform.

      To be fair, Google made similar mistakes [silmaril.ie] with Android, releasing 1.* with no support for two key elements, principally Bluetooth and Wifi Proxies. But these appear to be partially fixed in 2.*, whereas the N900 was just an expensive not-very-smart-phone.

      Every time the deficiencies of Nokia's vision come up, their developers (who are excellent people) come up with the same scripted blather about how important the company's marketing strategy is, and how they know best, and how the market for "tablets" is so important. Of course it is, as the iPad showed, but the N800 was there long before, and had more facilities than the iPad, and could easily have been developed into a larger, competitive device.

      But Nokia is at heart still just a phone manufacturer, and they lack the vision to see where the handheld market is going, despite having it explained to them numerous times in words that even marketing 'droids can understand. The future isn't in "tablets" but in portable computing. Call them "tablets" if it makes you feel warm and fuzzy, but don't think for a moment that they are phones with a PDA bolted on. They're computers, and the way to sell them is to make sure they run stuff — simply, easily, quickly, and openly.

    • Re:maybe (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 24, 2010 @10:19AM (#34004130)

      I work for NOKIA and Google is our primary competitor; not Motorola, HTC, Samsung etc.

      We are moving towards becoming an Internet services provider with smartphones playing an important role in this transition. MeeGo plays vital role in this strategy. Qt should allow seamless integration of applications in both Symbian and MeeGo; Symbian is still useful for middle-end devices, MeeGo aims to be the top dog. Qt should allow you to get the same UI experience on both platforms later.

      At this moment we are deploying distributed architecture comparable to Google's so that we can compete in latency and scalability of all our services once the initial pains are over. MeeGo should be fully integrated with this framework.

      Symbian is a nice OS with outdated GUI which shoots it down; MeeGo should be our response to UI; for that we hired WebOS UI designers to help us get there.

      If you ever tried N900 you can imagine what kind of phone would be the first MeeGo phone - you'd be able to run xterm, gcc or most Linux applications on your phone directly - I am not aware of any other phone on the market capable of doing this. Couple this with a capacitive touchscreen, multitouch, UI similar to WebOS yet with NOKIA style, fully offline 3D navigation, microSD, HDMI, hi-res cameras and many more - you can perhaps ditch your netbook and camera and carry only this phone.

  • Why not (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 24, 2010 @04:27AM (#34002488)

    Maybe they don't like Android.
    That's why, in the face of Windows dominating the desktop, I installed Linux.

    It's possible for people to dislike software.

    • I like Yellow (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bananaendian (928499)

      I'm writing this on my MacBook Pro, my other work machines are Windows PC's. I administer a UNIX server at the laboratory. I do most of my work on LabView and AutoCAD. I edit my photos with Photoshop and I drive my Ford to the local supermarket at the mall and buy the biggest brand cereal. And in the evening I sooth myself with a bottle of JD.

      I use stuff so I can be productive and happy. I dislike smug people who announce their dislike of stuff so they can feel superior to me. They're not. They are just

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by anshulajain (1359933)

        I'm writing this on my Ubuntu laptop (corporate), my work systems are all Linux (Ubuntu, Mandriva) and I administer a large number of Linux systems deployed for mission-critical manufacturing test...oh my work is all on LabVIEW, besides using Linux for all "other" corporate work (I'm among the senior management at work)

        I edit my pics with Shotwell and Picasa and drive the latest Honda to the local supermarket. I like to relax in the evening with some nice music and enjoy time with my family.

        I use Linux to

    • by gilesjuk (604902)

      I think it's a case of Symbian being their code or feeling as if they have at least contributed a lot of it.

      Jobs said they considered Linux for the iPhone but ultimately didn't want to use someone else's code.

      Ballmer wouldn't use anything non-Windows.

      Nokia want to use their own software.

  • by dbIII (701233) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @04:31AM (#34002494)
    ... and also it is not costing them very much to develop the MeeGo environment.
    If they take up MS Windows Phone 7 that will be putting a vast amount of undeserved trust in what is really a competitor and hoping they will not get hurt. With respect to Ted Samson I think he is either not being serious and expecting to generate a spirited argument or he knows far less about what he is writing about than the youngest commenter here.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Android is all cool and stuff, it's also FLOSS and great, and whatever.

      However, it has its shortcomings which make it less than a desirable phone operating system for me. First of all, MeeGo, Maemo and their cousins allow me to run any vanilla GNU/Linux GUI applications. They are most often inconvenient to use on a phone, but they are sometimes better than what's available on the platform. On Android I'm limited to apps written for Android. Thanks but no thanks.

      Also, programming for Android? You need Java o

      • by XDirtypunkX (1290358) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @04:59AM (#34002620)

        You might want to look into the NDK on Android. It's perfectly possible to port a runtime written in C/C++ to Android and then use that to run your python code.

        • yeah, right... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Kludge (13653) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @06:07AM (#34002846)

          Porting a python run time would be a pain in the butt. And even if it worked what libraries would it have?

          I wrote a python script on my laptop that grabs some data off the network and displays it in a GTK window for the user. I then copied that program to my N900 and it just worked. Try that on your Droid.

      • I can get a bash shell on my nexus one, and from there its possible to install a full standard gnu userland. The only difference with meego is that the standard userland is already there, but nothing stopping you from installing what you need on android.

        That said, why would you want to install ruby on a phone? I grudgingly have ruby installed on my relatively highend laptop, and it's an absolute pig, i would hate to have something so inefficient on a far less powerful device with a smaller battery.

        • by grumling (94709)

          You CAN GET a bash prompt on your Nexus 1. While Maemo COMES WITH a CLI out of the box.

          "Rooting" the phone was as simple as enabling the extras repo and getting the gainroot application (which I believe comes from Nokia).

          Then open the CLI, type sudo gainroot and watch as the prompt changes to a #.

          Done. No screwing around with custom kernels, waiting for the "community" to figure it out, etc.

          But the reality is that mobile phones aren't built for people who care about such things. If Nokia survives the handse

      • never say never (Score:3, Interesting)

        Android is all cool and stuff, it's also FLOSS and great, and whatever.

        However, it has its shortcomings which make it less than a desirable phone operating system for me. First of all, MeeGo, Maemo and their cousins allow me to run any vanilla GNU/Linux GUI applications. They are most often inconvenient to use on a phone, but they are sometimes better than what's available on the platform. On Android I'm limited to apps written for Android. Thanks but no thanks.

        Also, programming for Android? You need Java or another language that compiles for JVM.

        Just a small (but very important) correction It's not the JVM, but the Dalvik VM. Bytecode is different, architecture is different, and Dalvik by design will not run J2ME things that can run on a JVM.

        Want to program in Python? Good luck. You can't, and you'll never can, because Jython isn't portable to Android.

        Considering that Google App's engine primary language (for a while) was Python, I doubt that Python (or a subset of it) will never be supported on Android. To run Python on a VM, you. do. not. necessarily. need. Jython. You simply need (a yet to be developed) Jython-like equivalent for the Dalvik.

        Obviously

        • by gbjbaanb (229885)

          Dalvik on the other hand started (and has remained so) with support to a subset of Java. Why? Because it caters to the masses of J2ME developers already in existence; another strategic move, and a better response to iPhone's reliance on Objective-C.

          This confuses me, see if they wanted a strategic language for Android that gained a absolute heap of developers, J2ME wasn't it. It was C/C++ as used by Symbian. Add some symbian->Android conversion tools, libraries or frameworks and you'd have had a massive a

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by metamatic (202216)

        Also, programming for Android? You need Java or another language that compiles for JVM. Want to program in Python? Good luck. You can't, and you'll never can, because Jython isn't portable to Android. Want to program Ruby? Haha.

        SL4A for Android [google.com] from Google gives you Python and Ruby right on your Android phone. Also Perl, Lua, JavaScript, Tcl and shell. In other words, you're about as wrong as it's possible to be.

    • by gilesjuk (604902)

      MeeGo is the merger of Maemo and Moblin, so there's lots of man hours already been put into the platform. Personally I don't like the tab based approach to the UI. The icons are unclear and the tab selectors are small, not much use for people with fat fingers who are running it on a smartphone.

      The problem is current Nokia handsets with Symbian are probably just stop-gap until this project gets somewhere. I wouldn't want to put my money into buying an applications from the Ovi store if I knew that the phone'

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by stephanruby (542433)

      And also, MeeGo is not meant for the phone market, only Android is. MeeGo is meant for the mobile/wifi netbook/tablet market. In that sense, MeeGo is competing with ChromeOS, Windows 7, and Linux, and it will do very well in that regards with Intel backing it, Intel already dominates the Netbook market (just not on the OS side yet).

  • Ouch. I didn't think Nokia would ever muster the balls to kill off Symbian (which was clearly the only logical move after the iPhone ate its lunch, even more so after Android started making inroads). I guess the majority of those 1800 redundancies will be Symbian geeks, to be replaced by Linux ninjas working on MeeGo (here's hope).

    It's a shame it took so long for them to understand. They should have ditched Symbian right after the N97 disaster, pushing hard on shipping great Maemo products. Instead, Maemo w

    • The still sell more phones worldwide than Apple or anybody else and are not going to fold if they take a few more months to ship than expected.
      • by Toy G (533867) <toyg&libero,it> on Sunday October 24, 2010 @04:47AM (#34002562) Homepage Journal

        yeah but their margins are thin and getting thinner by the day. They currently rely on third-world consumers not being able to afford Android or Apple phones, but cheap 'droids are less than a year away...

        • by MrHanky (141717)

          Nokia made a decent profit again the last fiscal quarter after a short dip in the red, with their average phone being more expensive than before. And if the rumours about Gingerbread's system requirements are true (which is highly unlikely, but feature creep won't make it any lighter), the last cheap Android phones will be running 2.2.

    • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @05:31AM (#34002736) Journal

      Ouch. I didn't think Nokia would ever muster the balls to kill off Symbian (which was clearly the only logical move after the iPhone ate its lunch, even more so after Android started making inroads).

      What? Symbian has a beautifully designed kernel, with power management at every level of the stack, able to run isolated personalities so that it can run the hard-realtime stuff for controlling the radio on the same CPU as the apps. It has a microkernel design with support for capabilities (for running semi-trusted code), and concurrency at every layer from the nanokernel up so it will scale happily on the next generation of phones with multiple cores.

      Linux, in contrast, is a pig on mobile devices. Power management is accomplished by hacks on top of hacks. Hard realtime is a joke. It's there purely for buzzword compliance.

      Unfortunately, the userland stuff for Symbian is a pain. It used to use a version of C++ for userspace development that exposed some of the very low-level memory management stuff. This was important for phones with no MMU, but is a waste of time now. It's not required (in fact, you can just use Qt), but a lot of people tend to judge Symbian by either that or by the crappy UIs that a lot of manufacturers (including Nokia) have built on top of it in the past.

      • by RichiH (749257)

        The irony is that with Qt, the userland started to look good for Symbian.

        Though the _real_ problem is the fragmentation. And I am not talking Steve Jobs make-believe fragmentation. When I still used to follow Nokia & the Ovi blogs closely, they would announce Application X which is available for Symbian 5 devices, second release, fourth generation, with touchscreen and the optional chicken attachment. The E75 still does not have free navigation even though it supports Ovi Maps in its newest iteration. E

  • Why ditch it? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vadim_t (324782) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @04:35AM (#34002508) Homepage

    Making themselves yet another Android vendor would give little reason for people to prefer their phones over somebody else's.

    Also I find Nokia's approach interesting. Their distribution is a very standard looking one, and porting applications to it is extremely trivial. Anything that compiles on ARM will run outright, and only needs fixes to the UI. Lots of command line tools can be used without changes.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by jklovanc (1603149)

      Making themselves yet another Android vendor would give little reason for people to prefer their phones over somebody else's.

      Different is not necessarily better. As a consumer I can buy a Droid phone and in the future buy another driod phone from another compatible manufacturer and still use the same apps. If I buy a Nokia, I am stuck buying Nokias if I want to use the same app.
      There is also the catch 22 of any new OS; Few apps are written because the install base in not high enough, Install base is low because there are few apps. iOS avoided that issue because they were the first on the block and every developer wanted to get on

      • "My first question is; how many people will be running command line tools on their phone?"

        Count me in, cowboy! That is one! :)

        "Second the code must run on an ARM so must be written for an ARM. Can I easily port my Android or iOS app to MeeGoo? I doubt that very much."

        But, we can't count on you?!

      • Re:Why ditch it? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by MrHanky (141717) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @07:29AM (#34003156) Homepage Journal

        My first question is; how many people will be running command line tools on their phone?

        Plenty of really excellent GUI apps (some of them made with Qt) are simply front-ends to complex command line utillities.

    • Making themselves yet another Android vendor would give little reason for people to prefer their phones over somebody else's

      I was (no longer since the crappy N97) a great Nokia fanboi. They simply make the best hardware, and have kept understanding that a smartphone should be a phone with PDA functions and not the other way around. The OS has nothing to to with it; its only advantage at one time was that is was the only game in town, especially at a time where the competition was windows mobile, which is a

      • by vadim_t (324782)

        What Symbian? What I have is a N900, there's no trace of Symbian in it as far as I can tell. What runs on the N900 is a very standard looking Debian based distribution.

  • Lots of reasons (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Microlith (54737) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @04:35AM (#34002510)

    The first that comes to mind is how Android is all about tossing aside everything that is open source as we know it and reinventing the wheel. The catch is that the wheel has not necessarily been improved, and now it's all under the control of Google, who does development behind closed doors and only allows hardware vendors to participate in the process. The rest of the world gets Android code when Google feels like releasing it.

    The open source world has TONS of excellent APIs, no sense in not using them. Makes development a lot easier when you don't have to worry about each subsystem yourself. And hey, if your hardware vendor isn't run by bean-counting, control freak assholes, you can participate too.

    But the main reason Nokia won't go Android is because that makes them dependent on Google, which even Android vendors like Motorola cite as a risk. Google wants to ride other vendors to get their services out there and make money, and that's a realm Nokia wants for themselves.

    Following along with this, I'm amused that people put WP7 in league with Android or MeeGo. It's more like an iOS 2.0 you can license, and well you only need to read my post history as of late to know my opinion on hyper-restrictive OSes like iOS and WP7.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It seems that even hardware vendors don't have much influence on Google for Android development. Most of them don't get the build before the rest of the world does. So it means that if you're not HTC or one of the close partner, you'll always be lagging. And even the close ones have little input into the development process.

      Nokia does not want the phone market to become like the PC market, where you have one Microsoft and lots of OEMS.

      Meego is an Open Source project done right, with open development, re-use

    • by RichiH (749257)

      ()()
      ('')
      (__)

      My bunny is clearly superior to yours. Also, it acts as a Kirby if need be.

  • java. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lalo Martins (2050) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @04:38AM (#34002524) Homepage
    Can't tell you why Nokia thinks MeeGo makes business sense. Or Intel. I can tell you why I'll buy it if/when it comes out (and my current phone is an N900): because it's not Java. I can write stuff in Python (comes pre-installed), I can run stuff not specifically written for the platform (emacs, kobodeluxe), I don't have to put up with anything I don't want to. That, for me, is a sell.
    • Re:java. (Score:5, Funny)

      by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @04:44AM (#34002548) Homepage
      Well, that should certainly win Nokia several million customers right there!
    • Re:java. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by martyw (1911748) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @05:27AM (#34002722)
      Exactly, MeeGo allows you to code in Python/C/C++/Fortran and even Java/Mono/C# whatever - the GNU GCC is there, standard open source project and libraries all working, just ask any developer, they are loving it. So from the dev's POV it is heaven. Now the marketing, branding and UI of the MeeGo platform -- that is completely other matter..
    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      That is simple. The Infoworld guy and most people have an American viewpoint myself included about Nokia. Nokia is still the biggest cell phone maker on earth.
      In the US they are sell a few super expensive smartphones and a few super cheap phones. If the push out MeeGo it will have a huge marketshare in a flash.
      The real reason for Nokia not being a big deal in the US is that the majority of US cell phones use CDMA vs Europe and many other places that GSM only. Nokia just doesn't have many CDMA phones and Nok

  • Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DMiax (915735) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @04:41AM (#34002536)

    In my case because there is a market for people that don't want to develop for a dumbed down linux and want a real development environment.

    Also of note the fact that they recently increased the planned releases for Symbian^3 (four phones now on WP) that Symbian^2 phones keep being released in the Japanese market and Symbian^1 is alone probably domnant in the smartphone market overall.

    If they could finally get a Symbian SDK working on linux I would jump on it immediately. Linux needs terribly high specs, Symbian is impressive in this sense and I could easily keep two/three test phones for hobby development.

    But I digress: if the choice is a linux distro and Android I will buy the linux distro, so I can install every possible package I already have on my desktop/laptop.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by benjamindees (441808)

      But I digress: if the choice is a linux distro and Android I will buy the linux distro, so I can install every possible package I already have on my desktop/laptop.

      This is such a huge advantage, but the market of people who want it is so tiny no company will ever chase them.

      • by RichiH (749257)

        In that case, it's a good thing that BMW and Audi are already using Meego for their under development car computers.

        High-end cars is a market worth chasing.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by niftydude (1745144)

      But I digress: if the choice is a linux distro and Android I will buy the linux distro, so I can install every possible package I already have on my desktop/laptop.

      I completely agree with this. Also - I am hanging out for the ability to do x11 forwarding with ssh. ssh -Y -C will be THE killer app for me. I would have bought a n900 long before now just for this if the handset didn't happen to be such a large and ugly brick.

    • by SpzToid (869795)

      Huh? When did you try to run a Symbian SDK on Linux last? I am running QT Creator 1.3.83 on a 3 year old, 300 euro Compaq Presario C700 w/ 2Gb RAM, using 32bit Ubuntu 10.10; and it runs great.

      -> If they could finally get a Symbian SDK working on linux I would jump on it immediately.

      Well now is your chance. Here's some more information for you:
      http://arstechnica.com/open-source/news/2010/09/nokias-cross-platform-development-strategy-evolves-with-qt-47.ars [arstechnica.com]

  • by hotwax (1109843) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @04:44AM (#34002552)
    The Android phones I've seen are pretty much as locked down as the iPhone. Meego is the only phone OS with some potential for new and interesting things. And Nokia were successful in the first place because they dared to try new things.
    • by asnelt (1837090) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @05:30AM (#34002734) Homepage
      You must be trolling. It's not Android that is locked down. It's the phone manufacturers that abuse the openness of Android to lock their phones down. Granted, there are proprietary drivers on every Android phone at the bottom and there are proprietary apps at the top (which can be removed from rooted phones). Moreover, Android itself is developed by Google behind closed doors. But still Android itself is open. That is the reason why forks of Android like the Cyanogen mod can emerge. And this is something that did not even happen with Maemo. On its internet tablets Nokia used mostly FOSS but kept enough closed so that it did not loose control over the platform. For instance 1/3 of the software on the Nokia 770 was actually proprietary. There was even a project called Mamona that tried to replace the closed source components with open source ones and it never reached a stage were it could be called usable. I would say Android has a lot of potential.
    • by Nerdfest (867930)
      It would be very nice if they licenced it such that the phone carriers can't do to it what they did to Android with non-removable UI features, etc. I hate to say it, but slightly less free in this case would be better, as long as it kept freedom for the user to upgrade more easily.
  • by phishtahko (1308293) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @04:52AM (#34002586)
    The only thing Nokia needs to ditch is the bureaucracy. It has way too many divisions each wanting to keep features to themselves. They need to combine their E and N series and have a total of no more that 3 smartphones - entry-, mid- and highlevel. They could go up to 6 models if they offer each of the 3 variants with either touch or touch/slide keyboard, but no more than that. They have to many differing visions because of their different devisions. Having one person in charge is essentially the only way to go, since it gets rid of the in-fighting which is currently sinking them. If you want proof, just look to Apple. One gigantic asshole running the show and in 4 years they've turned themselves into the standard the old guard are playing catch-up to.
  • ... and it annoyed me to no end that I couldn't just get something like my old phone, a Nokia 6150. All the phones now either flip or slide, and are chock full of "features" which are really thinly-veiled attempts to get you to cough up more money for a data plan.

    I just wanted a regular phone with a 12-key number pad that could send text messages with predictive text input. Nope. Not offered anymore. Hell, I can't even send an email to someone without using a data plan and some email "service". (On the Noki

    • by zoney_ie (740061)

      That's not true. Nokia still have a lot of these phones and in candybar form-factor too. Admittedly mostly they aren't offered by ordinary carriers, but I have seen them in real life being offered by Tesco Mobile (if you are in the US, Tesco is a major UK grocery/everything monopoly like Walmart). They cost something like €20 or €30 (that's without signing your life away on network commitments as well!) Mostly the only issue with these (and why people don't go with it) is that it is targeted at th

    • by RichiH (749257)

      Nokia 1616
      Nokia 1800

      Have fun :)

      • by sznupi (719324)

        Or C1-00; only a slight change to 1616, but seems to come with much bigger battery. Suffice to say, standby times are insane.

  • Symbian has had it's time but is too limited for future hard and software.

    Android is good because it has a Linux background meaning there is a lot of experience with it yet it's ever more fragmenting.

    So I find it entirely logic that the largest phone manufacturer bites the bullet and goes with a much more mainstream fork of Linux.

    With the success of ARM-bases processors in mind it might be somewhat dangerous to get too cosy with Intel but hey, they already have experience with the other Linux offshoot M

    • by gbjbaanb (229885)

      Nokia would have to fall on really hard times before selling out to Microsoft

      and they don't need to. The E7 phone can work with Microsoft Office documents better than Word does, and you can even create powerpoints on the thing (no doubt to send to your PA with instructions to 'just tidy up the edges', but if you're targeting sales account managers and the like, this is the kind of thing that makes them sit up).

      So why would they 'downgrade' themselves to sell out to MS. In the mobile world, they *are* the Mi

  • a) Symbian foundation "shutting down"? Well, sure a [citation] would help.

    b) Even if so - it was of only so-so use for Nokia. They are basically the only Symbian developer worth anything. FLOSS Foundation spin-off shutting down does not mean that Nokia won't continue it.

    As for Symbian itself - it's not that bad. It lacks some polish. Well, seriously lacks, including the infra-structure. But it has some nice feature - like ability to run native code which Android badly misses (some poorly-informed guy should

  • Bad Journalism (Score:5, Insightful)

    by valdyn (445073) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @05:09AM (#34002650)

    Very badly researched articles and Summary:

    Symbian Foundation closing does not imply that Nokia will stop Symbian Development.
    Symbian 4 being transformed from an incompatible system into an upgrade path from Symbian 3 does not make it go away except for the name.
    And another one:
    "Symbian 3 made it onto a couple of phones, but no one really noticed or cared"
    The first Symbian 3 device was only just released (N8) and reviewed by the usual websites, and 2 more are announced and prototypes released and shown at the Nokia Fare (C7, E7).

    I'm to lazy to actually read the whole articles but there's probably more nonsense.. bad Journalism.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 21mhz (443080)

      I especially liked the tidbit on how MeeGo "made almost no headway after several years."

      The reality says that it was announced in February this year, and is near its first platform release with Nokia contributions and touch support.

  • Symbian is dead? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drolli (522659) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @05:12AM (#34002664) Journal

    a) News of symbians death are IMHO highly exaggerated. I right now would place a bet that symbian OS will be a significant palyer in the market for the next 5-10 years (maybe more). Why? Go to Indonesia, China, Malaysia, Africa, Russia etc. many people there dont afford iphones, but low-end Nokia devices are pushes out in numbers you cant imagine. And the current mid-class devices (e.g. Nokia e63), which you can already buy there will be the next low-end devices. So - taken into account the fact that Nokia can build successfully push out phones counted in 10s of millions and be profitable on a much smaller margin for revenue, you think they should experiment around?

    b) Android: Nokia stayed away from bundling the devices with services from other companies, because then you would invest in developments where somebody else dictates the rules. So should Nokia accept to help advertise and develop a platform, which makes them googles slaves? As a happy Nokia customer i say: No.

    c) customer base: If it want something for playing i'll buy and additional android device,iphone,psp or wii. If i want a workhorse, i'll buy the next Nokia phone - if possible a symbian one. I have all the software i need for it, namely dictionaries, pim tools, mail client, podcast downloader, internet radio, youtube client, skype, messaging clients, google maps (and nokia maps), office documents editors. Moreover it runs java programs. This is my definition of "what do i primarily need?". I wont sacrifice running this stably for an unknown gain in other things.

    So to say it shortly - the customers interested in having a cool looking web-surfing device Nokia already are lost for Nokia. Their potential customer base are people who want a cheap phone or something which "just works", with a little hooks as possible. For that they should take their time and keep the keys in they own hands.

  • by AHuxley (892839) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @05:38AM (#34002756) Homepage Journal
    Real Linux, copyleft license, BSD-style licenses. Not been associated with Google can be a good thing too.
    Unix is free, open and a offers a powerful community.
    Google only offers open layers down to a 'base' that maybe hardware or software.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by hweimer (709734)

      Plus the potential to run Android apps under MeeGo, probably even natively at some point.

  • by ThoughtMonster (1602047) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @05:46AM (#34002780) Homepage

    Seriously, any posting on Nokia/Symbian/MeeGo will have the inevidable person calling Nokia to adopt Android but this one gets the cake, claiming that "Symbian's dead, and MeeGo won't cure ailing Nokia". Nokia's recent press release (Engadet coverage [engadget.com]) claims the exact opposite, e.g. that Symbian and MeeGo are gaining unified development environments via Qt and Symbian is now a consolidated effort, unifying the seperate Symbian ^x releases into a constantly evolving release model (which means that older phone models will get constant feature improvements instead of just bug fixes). Nokia had a good Q3 and last I checked, they still held the majority of the mobile phone market. Talk about missing the point.

    Why are we giving these people creedence again? Oh yeah, he writes for InfoWorld, that must mean he's on to something.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 24, 2010 @05:47AM (#34002782)

    Nokia is not closing down Symbian, it looks like it might close down the Symbian Foundation (http://www.allaboutsymbian.com/news/item/12215_Nokia_accelerates_Qt_focus_con.php)

    The new CEO, mr Elop, has stated that Qt will be the main API for both Symbian and MeeGo, and that the two different Qt-based UI's for Symbian and MeeGo are either scrapped (Orbit on Symbian) or deprecated (DirectUI on MeeGo). Also, evolution of Symbian will proceed more smoothly so the numbering system (^3, ^4) is dropped.

    Finally, it looks like people can upgrade their devices to later versions of the OS.

    In a couple of weeks is the Symbian Smartphone Show or whatever it is called now (http://www.see2010.org/).

  • I thought the answer was blatantly obvious: product differentiation. Nokia and their high costs in both location and labour will never be able to compete at a cost-level with companies like HTC who can push out android phones faster and cheaper than European companies. If they lose their only differentiating factor (software), they're reduced to little more than a hardware-assembling company.
  • I really want to know who messed this up...

    They have an alternative to Symbian, it's called Maemo
    Someone came up with this MeeGo thing, which is great, but it shouldn't be against Maemo

    They have a cell phone with Maemo, the N900

    The should begin getting Maemo to run on other platforms (maybe even the X8 one) and instantly fire anyone who starts whining about it

  • by ibsteve2u (1184603) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @09:14AM (#34003732)
    Some think Symbian will be around a while... [visionmobile.com]

    There are two reasons why Nokia won’t be abandoning Symbian anytime soon.

    Firstly, Symbian is tightly integrated with Nokia’s variant management process. Nokia is the only OEM that has mastered variant management, i.e. being able to generate 100s of variants (SKUs) at the press of a button. That’s how Nokia can deliver 100s of customised smartphones to operators and retailers around the world. This variant management process is ‘hardcoded’ to Symbian, which means that replacing Symbian would seriously compromise Nokia’s ability to cater to operator requirements around the world and it would seriously hurt its market share.

    Secondly, Nokia’s economies of scale rely on in-house control of core components, and the operating systems is one of them. If Nokia were to license Windows Phone it would reduce its differentiation to industrial design and Ovi alone. In the case of Android, Nokia would have to branch Android (and to sustain the cost of Android development), port Qt on Android which means another 12+ months for a stable implementation. While this remains a long-term possibility, it is still a gamble when Nokia’s priority should be to focus on killer devices and not a killer OS. Qualcomm’s BREW MP is another candidate but only when Qualcomm has a good developer platform story and that means waiting for BREW MP to launch a web-based platform akin to RIM’s WebWorks.

    Symbian may no longer be a symbiotic system, but will live within Nokia for many years to come as the workhorse under the hood of Nokia smartphones.

  • by lxt (724570) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @09:16AM (#34003744) Journal
    It seems that Nokia has a bit of a following on /., probably because their hardware is pretty decent, and key handsets like the N900 appeal to the demographic here. But the fact is in terms of an *ecosystem*, Nokia has nothing. They are in the gutter.
    Nokia are at the point where they are actively having to pay developers to write apps. And we're not talking small apps here - big, branded apps for global companies, who are being approached by Nokia asking them if they'd like an app for Ovi. I couldn't tell you the number of clients I deal with day in day out during my day job who have already been rung up by Nokia. Even with an app developed at no cost, very few companies will take Nokia up on it.
    It is simply not a space that people want to release software into right now. It doesn't get you press, and it doesn't get you sales. At least Blackberry have realised their previous app space strategy wasn't working, and are attempting to engage with mobile developers in a meaningful way. Nokia's left there without a clue.
  • by Rexdude (747457) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @12:27PM (#34004988)
    It's quite a solid piece of hardware, and Symbian^3 isn't bad either. The first firmware update later this year promises to update the built in Qt runtime to 4.7, replace the existing dog of a S60 browser with a Qt based one, and other improvements.
    And because of the way Symbian's been designed from the ground up to work with limited CPU cycles/memory, it runs exceedingly well with a 680 MHz ARM11 and a Broadcom GPU. Angry Birds has been ported to Symbian, Need for Speed Shift looks gorgeous, and HD videos play smoothly on the AMOLED display. Detractors crow over the gigahertz class CPUs on rival Android/iOS devices, but consider that Android practically REQUIRES that sort of CPU power for its eyecandy. A lower specced Android phone [allaboutsymbian.com] just doesn't cut it for speed. And while battery technology doesn't keep up with clock speed, GHz level CPUs are going to guzzle battery as well.
    My phone lasts great for 2 days with wifi permanently on and push email running for GMail/Hotmail/Yahoo, with around 2-3 hours of calls a day and moderate web browsing and youtube. It has a power saving mode as well, that reduces display brightness and other settings in one go to consume less power.

    For all the bullshit in this article, he never even talks about Nokia's Q3 financial performance [nokia.com]. They've sold 26.5 million smartphones, with an operating profit of €529 million, and net sales of €10.3 billion. Today in India, you can buy a Symbian based Nokia C5 for about INR 7000 unsubsidized (about $160). Just a couple of years ago that was unthinkable for a Symbian phone, they typically cost double or more. Nokia's pushing smartphones lower into the mass market with Symbian - they're able to standardize the hardware (600 MHz ARM CPUs as of now) and because of Symbian's scalability it can power these low end handsets. Meego will wind up for the successors to the N900 and probably be a netbook/smartphone hybrid OS, with appropriately beefy hardware and targeted at the high end market. And both Meego and Symbian will be bound by Qt for application development, so that there's no fragmentation going forward for developers. Qt is a proven toolkit, in use by Skype, Google Maps and VLC, and can be used to make desktop apps for Windows/Linux/Mac as well. And naturally everything here is true honest open source, not locked down or restricted like the 2 competing phone OSes(Android the OS being restricted by its device manufacturers even if it itself is open source). I see this as quite good - an incentive for developers to write apps that will reach the entire world, not just the US (there's 10 million downloads a day on Ovi Store as of now, it seems), while using standard development tools that can be used outside of mobile phones as well.

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