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Cellphones Operating Systems Software The Almighty Buck

Nokia Paying $10M For Symbian Software Devs 210

colordev writes "Yesterday Nokia and AT&T announced a mobile software coding contest worth $10 million in prize money. The move is intended to help Symbian compete with Android and iOS. The day before this announcement, Sony Ericsson said it would not be making any new Symbian devices and is instead focusing on Android. That left Nokia pretty much alone with Symbian, and now it wants to find new coding 'friends' to keep the platform alive. Natural selection seems to be slowly eroding Symbian's future. Is this contest too late?"
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Nokia Paying $10M For Symbian Software Devs

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  • by ADRA ( 37398 ) on Friday September 24, 2010 @12:52PM (#33688872)

    1. Ditch the goal of moving Symbian to anything beyond dumb phones with cameras
    2. Change the name of Meego to ANYTHING ELSE
    3. Release Meego completely OSS and don't hamper people wanting to go in and tinker
    4. Start rolling out both (Official stock) Android and Meego on devices and allow for the devices to switch back and forth between the two
    5. Release a marketing campaign to choose 'the next look of Nokia'
    6. Analyze which OS is getting better market traction and phase out the loser
    7.Profit More!

  • by dokebi ( 624663 ) on Friday September 24, 2010 @12:54PM (#33688886)
    If history means anything, the market can only support so many different operating systems (3?). Even with a huge market like handsets and mobile devices, 5 maybe too many. Currently we have 6+ (in no particular order)

    Symbian (Nokia)
    Blackberry (RIM)
    Android (Google)
    iOS (Apple)
    palmOS (HP)
    WinMobile (Microsoft)

    Only two of these are available from multiple hardware vendors, and it's hard to imagine new entrants MeeGo (Intel) and Bada (Samsung) gaining any sort of traction. Unlike desktops, hardware/software integration seems to be key in this market, which may mean iOS may have an upper hand. Or perhaps its ease of development, which favors Android or WinMobile. So those will be my pick for top 3. Sorry Nokia, it was good while it lasted. Thanks for the cute ringtone!
  • by Microlith ( 54737 ) on Friday September 24, 2010 @01:06PM (#33689042)

    4. Start rolling out both (Official stock) Android and Meego on devices and allow for the devices to switch back and forth between the two

    These are mutually exclusive endeavors. Releasing Android puts you in the position of your users being dependent on Google (and Google dictating terms to you for access to the Android Market,) while fragmenting your userbase across both platforms.

    They just need to release a MeeGo device with a simple bootloader unlock so I can have a better user experience with the same hands-off nature that my N900 provides.

  • by DurendalMac ( 736637 ) on Friday September 24, 2010 @01:07PM (#33689044)
    And it's dropping like a stone and Nokia knows it. Symbian has been sucking hard in comparison to everything else and will be history in a couple of years unless they can turn it around.
  • by Microlith ( 54737 ) on Friday September 24, 2010 @01:11PM (#33689102)

    Irrelevant. They can still provide a good user experience without locking down the device to an almost punitive level.

    Of course, the exact same thing could be said for your regular computer. You don't need all that functionality, only a tiny niche of geeks do. Let us lock that down for you...

  • by Kensai7 ( 1005287 ) on Friday September 24, 2010 @01:39PM (#33689466)

    Too sad that opinions about global corporation doings are shaped almost always but their achievements in the American market and media outlets.

    Yes Nokia/Symbian is still huge and prosperous, except for the US market. Many statistics you see around showing Apple or RIM or Google at half the market are simply not taking into consideration other markets as well.

  • Re:Symbian (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RAMMS+EIN ( 578166 ) on Friday September 24, 2010 @02:17PM (#33690084) Homepage Journal

    You mean like Maemo []?

    I just got a Nokia N900, which has Maemo, and I'm very happy with it. Finally, a phone I can code for using my extensive experience with Unix programming.

  • Re:Symbian (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jfanning ( 35979 ) on Friday September 24, 2010 @02:36PM (#33690344) Homepage

    Uh, that would be Meego then?!

  • by RAMMS+EIN ( 578166 ) on Friday September 24, 2010 @02:41PM (#33690398) Homepage Journal

    ``Symbian's origins are nearly 20 years old now.''

    Linux is nearly 20 years old, too. Arguably, its origin is in Unix, which is about 40 years old. Out go the Linux-based Android, Maemo and Meego. Mac OS X and iPhone OS trace their origin back to NEXTSTEP from 1989. Over 20 years old, so out they go. Palm's webOS is, depending on your point of view, based either on Linux or on World Wide Web technology - both of which are about 20 years old, so that one is obsolete, too. That leaves Blackberry OS and Windows Mobile, both of which originate from 1996.

    Or perhaps "old" doesn't mean "not good enough" after all.

    Personally, I think that the fact that, after 40 years, we have systems implementing the Unix APIs on everything from embedded systems to supercomputers, and from specialty devices that virtually nobody has ever heard of to consumer devices like desktop computers, phones, and televisions, means that those APIs are good and one could do worse than continuing to use them.

  • by DomNF15 ( 1529309 ) on Friday September 24, 2010 @02:53PM (#33690548)
    Agreed - and probably only a large percentage (44%) because Nokia is such a global leader in cellular devices. I don't think people are buying Symbian, they are buying Nokia hardware that happens to run Symbian. It's not like iOS/Android, where people are more entranced with the operating system/user experience than the device it comes on. Symbian has been around for a while, longer than both of it's major competitors. If it's not dying, it's at least not getting the market attention that iOS and Android are...
  • by tlambert ( 566799 ) on Friday September 24, 2010 @03:07PM (#33690746)

    Me too, but not for the same reasons

    The problem is that they are coming very late to the "applications game", and they are trying to fit those applications on legacy devices with vastly differing capabilities from one another.

    The reason Apple has been so successful here is that all of its devices have similar capabilities and screen resolution, so there is a common baseline for all of the applications to assume, and so from that you get applications capable of using the device capabilities better, rather than scaling back and having the "minimum" UI.

    Even the one where the screen resolution is a bit off in "twice as big" mode, the iPad, is "close enough" that the applications for the other devices don't have a problem running with it. Going the other direction, Apple is going to start having a few problems, as people write specifically to the iPad capabilities. The aspect ratio isn't similar enough for "twice as small" to fit those applications on an iPhone/iPod screen. I expect that what will happen is that Apple will normalize the aspect ratio between the devices by changing the next iPhone/iPod to have the same aspect ratio to make the conversions "work".

    Android faces similar issues to the legacy systems, which is lack of a standard minimum spanning set -- android doesn't dictate screen resolution, touch (or keyboard) capability, and so on. So Android isn't going to do any better in the applications market than Nokia, unless they address these issues so that the applications experience is actually good for the customer between devices.

    Without requiring this sort of standardization of the application operating environment, the customer is stuck trying to figure out how to pick applications that will run on their devices and/or the developer is stuck porting (and testing) on a zillion devices to certify their application compatible, or (more likely), both happen. If so, you only get applications markets that are device-specific, and the developers (those which are willing to be developers in such an environment) will tend to target only the most popular devices to maximize their market size while minimizing their development outlay.

    And this is exactly the same problem that a proliferation of APIs and kernel versions and so on have caused for the BSDs and Linux distributions which have largely kept the commercial software players away from trying to sell into those markets (hence things like "no iTunes for Linux", and Adobe specifically targetting one browser and one Linux distribution with their plugins).

    -- Terry

  • by Rexdude ( 747457 ) on Friday September 24, 2010 @03:46PM (#33691160)
    So the Symbian UI is 'dated' and 'old'. Well, guess what,pick up a Palm PDA from 1995, any Symbian handset and the American darlings, iOS/Android - and look at the way the UI is presented. What pray is so sexy or innovative about a gazillion icons presented in a scrolling view, as on the iPhone? Android does the same. So did Palm and so does Symbian/Nokia. Or is it the pretty transitions when you tilt the screen? Or the beveled edge buttons? GUIs have been about rows of icons to click on for ages. On a non touch mobile device, you use buttons to scroll/select while on a touchscreen you tap and slide your finger to scroll the display.
    How many different ways is one to implement menus, checkboxes and radio buttons? Those are not going away any time soon. In 2006, Nokia introduced an optional new home screen that showed shortcuts to apps and alerts for new email/calendar appointments/nearby wifi networks. This is now far more customizable as in the upcoming Symbian^3, where you can have upto 3 homescreens with customizable widgets. Android also has something similar, but iOS as far as I've seen has no such native capability. That's not innovative?
    Symbian has been designed from the ground up as an OS optimized for low CPU/memory usage, so it scales well from low to high end devices. It also has true preemptive multitasking since its 2002 debut- for example if there's too many apps open and there's an incoming call, the call takes priority over everything else and the OS will close a couple of background apps to free memory. Compare that with the hottest new Samsung Galaxy S which sometimes fails at receiving a basic phone call. []. You can't control when the phone syncs data, or using what type of connection- you need an APNDroid hack to stop it syncing permanently in the background!! People rave about Snapdragon and gigahertz class CPUs for the newer Android devices, but the OS doesn't scale to lower specs at all []. It practically requires a high powered CPU to power all that eyecandy.
    Let's not even get started on the iPhone 4 antenna fiasco. Symbian has matured over 8 years and got the basics right - power management, multitasking, making calls,managing data connections over GPRS/3G/wifi/Bluetooth etc. It has also supported themes since its inception -there's hundreds of custom themes with different icons and colors available since then on various sites, so it's not like you're stuck with the look and feel that it ships with out of the box either. But well, superficial looks are all that matter in the end, apparently.

Make it myself? But I'm a physical organic chemist!