All About Symbian - Nokia (S60) and Sony Ericsson (UIQ) smartphones unwrapped

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Old 28-10-2009, 10:16 AM
slitchfield slitchfield is offline
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AAS Podcast 154, 'live' from SEE 2009, rounding up Day One

It's the official All About Symbian 'live' podcast from the SEE 2009 show, including: Ewan interviews with Lee Williams, a virtual audio tour of the show floor, Rafe interviews Jan Ole Suhr, the guy behind Gravity, Ewan interviews Bill Ray, from the Register, about the challenges facing the Symbian Foundation, plus Ewan, Steve, Rafe and Stuart (Clark) round up Day One of the show.



Read on in the full article.

  #2  
Old 28-10-2009, 02:39 PM
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Very inconsiderate of Nokia not to check Steve's calendar before releasing 2.0....

Last edited by UKJeeper; 30-10-2009 at 12:36 AM.

  #3  
Old 28-10-2009, 03:48 PM
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Still rearranging deck chairs

I'm struck by how complacent a lot of you sound about the situation at the moment - yes I know Symbian has a huge installed base but all on legacy devices. In new era devices the figures are much worse and the current touch implemenation (and to be fair to Symbian OS the dreadful hardware some manufacturers have chosen to implement it on) are extremely detrimental to public perception of the desriability of the OS. The GSM arena review of the Sony Ericsson Satio is on the whole positive towards the device but picks up on S60 v5 as a major weakness. Sony are a manufacturer on the brink and they desperately need this phone to sell well for them. They also have a rumoured new device coming on Android (prob v2) if the device and interface are received warmly and given their limted resources which platform do you think they are going to put further resources behind?

I still think there's not enough appreciation that in a touch era a positive UI experience is all - I find even simple things like texting in S60 v5 horribly unituitve similarly navigating menus, it's not just single/double touch but items that move around for no reason or performing different actions to achieve similar tasks - not unlike the horror of WinMob. Compared to my girlfriends iPhone 3GS my N97 is a device from a generation ago at least, more like 2 and to be fair to Apple the softawre may be seen as restricitve but the hardware is top notch. Who cares if it can multi task (actually it can't really because of the memory and proccy) when I have to concentrate to answer a phone call. Now it's especially unfortunate that the N97 is such a terrible phone at all levels and the software has been so incredibly unstable (and V20 firmware cannot address it's threadbare hardware) becasue as a supposed flagship and in Nokia's own words iPhone beater it will give a very negative feedback effect to the whole Symbian platform. I certainly will never get another Symbian phone at least until SF^4 and who knows what else will be aorund by then.

I know that lots of things are in the pipeline for SF^4 but when are we actually going to see devices with it in shipping by; 2011-2012? As I've mentioned before do we all really think the other platforms will stay still up until then? And once they've been repelled by the current Symbian offerings compared to other platforms do you think the consumer is going to come back (especially once they've invested in those other App eco-systems). So Symbian's best hope for future adoption might be an OS agnostic App environment.

I think that to prosper SF need a masively improved interface and to ncourage their partner manufacturers to implement it in adequate hardware and they need it within 6-9 months not some time in the never never. To pick up on one of the SEE09 presentations it needs to be able to neutalise it's high end competitors and fast, that's simply not going to happen with current or anounced products. Let's posit final nightmare scenario given their exponential growth Apple release two new iPhones a Nano in the 250 region and a Shuffle for 150 or under?

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Old 28-10-2009, 11:41 PM
oniox oniox is offline
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Thumbs down Symbian running out of time

Its taken google about 6 months to go from Android 1.5 to 2.0 while Symbian^4 will not be released until 2011 - screenplay, NFC etc sounds exciting but in this current market, 2011 is quite a long time to wait.

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Old 29-10-2009, 08:19 AM
neilhoskins neilhoskins is offline
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Listening to Bill Ray, I was wondering if you guys have any recommendations for tech journalists who "get it". The likes of Bill Ray and Rory Cellan-Jones are so US-centric that I find myself wondering how much Apple and Google are paying them. The BBC's Digital Planet acknowledges that there is life outside North America, but even they miss the point occasionally (like getting taken-in by scaremongering about malware, for example).

There are genuine concerns about Symbian during this transition, but for the reasons stated by SnoFlake above, not those constantly splurged out by the US-centric fanboy tech jounalists.

Any recommendations?

  #6  
Old 29-10-2009, 03:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snoFlake View Post
I'm struck by how complacent a lot of you sound about the situation at the moment - yes I know Symbian has a huge installed base but all on legacy devices. In new era devices the figures are much worse and the current touch implemenation (and to be fair to Symbian OS the dreadful hardware some manufacturers have chosen to implement it on) are extremely detrimental to public perception of the desriability of the OS. The GSM arena review of the Sony Ericsson Satio is on the whole positive towards the device but picks up on S60 v5 as a major weakness. Sony are a manufacturer on the brink and they desperately need this phone to sell well for them. They also have a rumoured new device coming on Android (prob v2) if the device and interface are received warmly and given their limted resources which platform do you think they are going to put further resources behind?
Firstly - thank you for a thoughtful comment.

I don't think we mean to sound complacent, but at the same time a deep understanding of the Symbian Foundation does tend to give a more positive view than is generally expressed in the media (so maybe this is where this comes from).

I don't think anyone under-estimates the UI challenge that Symbian faces, but this is only one area. The fact that one of only four Symbian councils is dedicated to UI speaks to the importance Symbian attach to this area. There are plans in place to improve the situation, but it will not happen overnight (the SF needs time). The other 'problem' area for Symbian is the developer story which comprises several components. A big solution box here is Qt.In other words Symbian is addressing these areas, but I would agree much depends upon execution.

The two areas mentioned above are highly visible and are picked up widely by the press. Apps are hyped beyond belief, but do not yet sell phones. Something as simple as pricing is far, far more important - an area where Symbian excels thanks to its hardware requirements and architecture. I agree UX is all important, but it does need to be backed by solid enablers.

Symbian currently dominates the non-touch market and still manages to sell well (Nokia still sold 6+ million Symbian touch devices last quarter). This rather suggests that sales is driven by more than just the hyped topics.

If you look at almost any other area you will find Symbian ahead (e.g. initiatives like SMP and SHAI, but also the maturity of the platform, the depth of system access in the develop offering). I also firmly believe its business model is the best positioned to take advantage of future trends (when compared to closed systems or the Google dicated open source models).

I think Sony Ericsson are still very much committed to the Symbian platform and we will see plenty of evidence of this over the next 6 months.

Quote:
Originally Posted by snoFlake View Post
I still think there's not enough appreciation that in a touch era a positive UI experience is all - I find even simple things like texting in S60 v5 horribly unituitve similarly navigating menus, it's not just single/double touch but items that move around for no reason or performing different actions to achieve similar tasks - not unlike the horror of WinMob. Compared to my girlfriends iPhone 3GS my N97 is a device from a generation ago at least, more like 2 and to be fair to Apple the softawre may be seen as restricitve but the hardware is top notch. Who cares if it can multi task (actually it can't really because of the memory and proccy) when I have to concentrate to answer a phone call. Now it's especially unfortunate that the N97 is such a terrible phone at all levels and the software has been so incredibly unstable (and V20 firmware cannot address it's threadbare hardware) becasue as a supposed flagship and in Nokia's own words iPhone beater it will give a very negative feedback effect to the whole Symbian platform. I certainly will never get another Symbian phone at least until SF^4 and who knows what else will be aorund by then.
I agree with a lot of what you say to an extent, though I think the N97 receives more than its fair share of criticism. You can put up a list of 'issues' with any product (e.g. the iPhone has inconsistent UI at the top of the screen). I would avoid condemning a platform from one product. Bear in mind the majority of the N97 work was done before the SF was even heard of. The SF can be seen as the way of addressing many of the issues that are apparent in the move to S60 5th Edition.

The N97 is still very capable - I think there's often a disconnect between geeks and some real world usage / ordinary users. I'm not saying its perfect, but it still a remarkably versatile and powerful device.

Quote:
Originally Posted by snoFlake View Post
I know that lots of things are in the pipeline for SF^4 but when are we actually going to see devices with it in shipping by; 2011-2012? As I've mentioned before do we all really think the other platforms will stay still up until then? And once they've been repelled by the current Symbian offerings compared to other platforms do you think the consumer is going to come back (especially once they've invested in those other App eco-systems). So Symbian's best hope for future adoption might be an OS agnostic App environment.
Symbian^4 devices will be in the shop in the first half of 2011. But Symbian^3 contains a lot of interesting features too - look for them next summer. Symbain^2 devices start to ship in the first half of next year. And no the other platforms will not stay still!

Yes consumers will come back - no one buys on the basis of which platform it runs. They are sold on marketing and maybe features. This is even more true as you move away from the high end, which is after all relatively small in size.

App downloads amongst ordinary users (not ones reading this) are low. The majority of people will choose a phone with better battery life or which is cheaper. Phone geeks are outliers in this respect. I'm not saying this will not change, but there's a need to understand ow the market works as a whole - not just in one segment (and translate that one segment to the whole).



Quote:
Originally Posted by snoFlake View Post
I think that to prosper SF need a masively improved interface and to ncourage their partner manufacturers to implement it in adequate hardware and they need it within 6-9 months not some time in the never never. To pick up on one of the SEE09 presentations it needs to be able to neutalise it's high end competitors and fast, that's simply not going to happen with current or anounced products. Let's posit final nightmare scenario given their exponential growth Apple release two new iPhones a Nano in the 250 region and a Shuffle for 150 or under?
What's adequate hardware? Do you build for the the top 20% or the 80%. It depends on your company strategy. Yes I'd like to see an N97 of next gen hardware, but is it necessary for most consumers?

Oh and if Apple announced a Nano and a Shuffle as you describe they wont be able to run the same software platform and Apple could face a disaster of expectation and perception management and fragmentation. Symbian has the mid-tier at the moment and the industry knows it (hence analyst predictions of Symbian remaining market share dominant through to 2014).

Even here I'm being deliberately positive, but I think it is worth putting this view when so much of the rest of the press takes a more superficial negative view.
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Old 29-10-2009, 03:18 PM
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Its taken google about 6 months to go from Android 1.5 to 2.0 while Symbian^4 will not be released until 2011 - screenplay, NFC etc sounds exciting but in this current market, 2011 is quite a long time to wait.
You've got Symbian^2 and Symbian^3 in between that. But to an extent Symbian^4 is the platform that the Symbian Foundation should be judged by... and yes it is a wait.

A lot of the stuff in Android 2.0 is application based. The Navigation stuff is being held up as the big new thing (and it is good)... but Ovi Maps has a roughly 6 monthly release cycle too... and its already on the next big thing (apps on maps).

Mobile moves quickly in one sense, but slowly in terms of market trends (even after 10 years smartphones only represent around 10-15% of the overall market).
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Old 29-10-2009, 04:01 PM
snoFlake snoFlake is offline
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Many thanks Rafe for taking the time to give such a considered and well informed response. I think you make some excellent counter arguments and maybe I was being a bit of a drama queen but I think partly in reaction to the seeming somnifluence of the Symbian ecosystem and their largest manufacturer (or at least my perception as such).

Just a couple of points and I may very well be technically wrong but by adequate hardware I mean providing the devices that are meant to run with the "Sizzles" or eyecandy widgets etc with suffieient memory and processor to enable them to deliver the advertised features and work flawlessly out of the box, and yes I'm pointing the finger again at the N97. I really do think there is an underestimation of how much non-geeks hate having to hack/delve into their devices to make them work and if they have to perform firmware upgrades and they don't go smoothly or it doesn't deliver what was promised it makes them nervous and scared and they really hate that. So altogether better if it (and others - X6 pre specs) had been spec'd with capacity to spare so the OS didn't have to be shoe-horned in for first 4 months after which point many normal users have binned/sold handsets with stability records like the N97. I also appreciate your point about price point being the main consideration in most peoples purchases (it was in mine got my N97 cheap off my brother - err great buy) I would just argue we haven't really seen a full round of upgrades during the "Appstore" era. Now I agree that a lot of it is overblown and a lot of Apps are worthless but at the moment it's what the consumer is being pumped. I know a few iPhone users who are IT aware but not particularly geeky and most of them especially the girls would in no way abandon their platform and App investments for at least another cpuple of upgrades or if they did it would have to be for something so compelling they'd be willing to drop their 100-150 software investment and I can't see any sign of such a device on any horizon at the moment. I've always contended that the real genius of App stores (apart form the money - which is nice) is that they make purchasers "sticky", I think Vodafone certainly think so and are worried hence Voda360.

I guess we shall see over next year when hold out 1st and 2nd gen iPhone and Android users upgrade, platform retention figures should be fascinating.

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Old 29-10-2009, 04:34 PM
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Ooooo and one extra point where are the Symbian fun apps? OVI is still terribly weak with far too much wallpaper and very poor apps.

N97 V20 firmware didn't appear with any of the promised new widgets by all accounts (I wouldn't know cos phone's in the shop ) and picking up on what Ewan alluded to at MIR it should worry Symbian that I don't see many if any outside companies launching Apps/Widgets on the platform. Ewan used Sony Films as an exapmple I'll cite one from yesterday on IntoMobile that VW are using an iPhone App as their launch and one of thier primary advertising channels for the New Golf GTi in the USA http://www.intomobile.com/2009/10/28...ti-launch.html, yes OK it is the US but it's still worrying that I detect no sign of similar brand involvement in Symbian although it is the by far the biggest Smart OS in Europe/Asia and if it can't attract this sort of opinon former involvemt surely it must lose traction. As a side/raleated thought I suddenly wondered why is Nokia making many start up co acquisitions and still hasn't reallly stitched them well enough together yet to form a coherent strategy (yeah I get what they're trying to do just not getting it together sufficiently) and their Navteq investment must have taken a book pounding today with Google's announcement of free voice navigation check TomTom and Garmin shares. This is my main point everything's taking too long an being overtaken by events, why instead don't they take 100million for starters and pay Symbian App developers to go ahead and develop a whole bunch of new Apps and Widgets - thus seeding the Symbian App ecosystem and providing a large number of "cool" new Apps for their platform (heaven knows they might even make money back if they sell enough) - just a thought. Kind of seeded opensource like Maemo.
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Old 30-10-2009, 02:30 AM
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I love how there are empty seats in one of the pics from the keynote speech. I think that should tell you something about how much interest there is left in this platform.

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Old 30-10-2009, 03:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rafe View Post
The N97 is still very capable - I think there's often a disconnect between geeks and some real world usage / ordinary users. I'm not saying its perfect, but it still a remarkably versatile and powerful device.
Allow me to give you my perspective if I may. I have been a Nokia customer since the good old 7650 right through to the circular keypad of the 3650 then on to the 6600, 7610, 6630, E61, E61i, N80, E70 (folding keypad), E51, E90 (excellent device), N95, N95 8GB, E71 and finally the N97.

As you can see I have owned and used enough Nokia devices over several years that I am in a position to voice my opinion.

And it is my opinion that the N97 is the worst of them all (updated 2009 specifications aside).

Where do I begin with what's wrong with this device? Hmm... a scratched camera lens for starters? The supposed flagship device has a design flaw this serious? Shame on you Nokia. Or maybe the shockingly poor gps reception? Or perhaps the joke that is the RAM memory capacity? You can't call it multitasking when the phone shuts down your applications when you least expect it. How about the plasticky battery cover that gets warm after about 30 seconds of 3G surfing? While we're on the subject of battery...mine only lasts several hours with moderate use. Fail. How about something as simple as email? Yup...that sucks too. The email experience on the N97 is pure horror, this IS 2009 isn't it? And please don't tell me to install the bloat of all bloats called "Nokia Messaging", been there, done that, no thanks. Now let's move on to VOIP that has been present on every Nokia device in the last several years. Oh... guess what? Nokia decided to remove it from its' so called 'flagship' device. Nice strategy Nokia: let's remove features. Yes I know that with the latest firmware I can find some obsolete .sis file somewhere on the net and try to hack my way to VOIP. Not exactly user friendly, is it? That promised Skype? Still nowhere to be seen... maybe in another 3 or 4 months time?

Jan Ole Suhr, the author of "Gravity", (in my opinion the only worthwhile S60 5th edition app out there, rest is crap), said it best himself: "It's all because of the slow cpu in the N97 and 5800" when talking about how poor the UI is. But I know, Rafe is the only person in the universe who thinks CPU speed is not important.

Rafe, I have really enjoyed your site over the years, but sometimes the fanboy glasses have to come off.

I am really hoping Maemo will take off but it will take a lot for me to ever buy another Nokia device.

Last edited by Arthur; 30-10-2009 at 03:17 AM.

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Old 30-10-2009, 09:14 AM
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Beer

Quote:
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...Where do I begin with what's wrong with this device? ...
Hey. Nice rant. You've got my vote.
 

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