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

Old 27-07-2010, 01:19 PM
slitchfield slitchfield is offline
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Does Symbian have a service layer gap?

Spurred on by his reviews of the Sony Ericsson Vivaz Pro and Samsung i8910 HD, David Gilson looks at the huge investment Nokia has made into providing an Ovi service layer - it seems that, whatever Ovi's detractors might say, the absence of this service layer on non-Nokia hardware is desperately noticeable. He also wonders whatever became of Symbian's Horizon project - as good a starting point as any for getting applications out to all Symbian smartphones.

Read on in the full article.

Old 27-07-2010, 02:09 PM
guizzy guizzy is offline
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Yes, they do have a gap, but everyone but Google does as well! Nokia is the least terrible competitor to Google there (second best doesn't sound right with the huge gap between them!)

Apple, aside from the App Store, doesn't have much. MobileMe is really poor when compared even just to OVI). And as for RIM, apart from BIS supplied email addresses.

But it's where Google shines. No one buys a Nokia phone just so they can get in on Ovi Files or Ovi Mail. With Ovi Maps being the exception, none of these services actually sell the platform. They're tickbox features; things Nokia need to offer in order to make sure their customers don't HAVE to rely on the services of a competitor. Google on the other hand, has its service layer as the very top argument in favor of its smartphone platform. While some might buy an Android phone for the sexy hardware, I'd guess the biggest portion of their users do so because they use GMail, Google Maps, Google Reader, Google Docs and want the best mobile experience for these services.

And Google makes sure it advertises to users of other platforms. Each time I open Google Maps on my Nokia instead of Ovi Maps because it's better at finding places, it's as if Google was making a pitch to me for my next phone to be an Android.

But I can't see Nokia competing all the way against Google there. I think they need to capitalize on one strength. In my opinion, to "sell" their service layer, they need to offer it to non Nokia users.

They need to leverage NAVTEQ to further Ovi Maps on Nokia devices, then offer free satnav to iPhone and Blackberry users. They don't need to make it as good as on Nokia phones, just offer enough of something they don't have (the other free satnav services are insignificant at this point; Ovi Maps is the only free satnav service that comes even close to Google Maps).

Old 27-07-2010, 02:10 PM
Furie Furie is offline
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I couldn't agree more. The i8910 HD still has some of the most impressive hardware available on Symbian phones yet it's sitting on my desk gathering dust while I type this on my 5800. Without the same Ovi service level that Nokia phones get a lot of that hardware is wasted for most users, and the workarounds are just too much work for those of us who don't have a desktop web connection, and too complicated for many who do.

Symbian's Horizon could remedy this on an applications store level, but that's only patching part of the problem while ignoring the largest, more easily dealt with problem. Take a look at the Beta Labs. Nokia Messaging in particular as well as other examples from the Beta Labs need hardware like the i8910 to run smoothly on, yet can't be installed on non Nokia phones without cracking the handsets first. By fragmenting the operating system into manufacturer groups they've effectively created different operating systems that can only run some of the applications available for the phones. If all applications were just signed to work on Symbian phones rather than Nokia phones or Samsung phones or whatever (obviously with a note that they haven't been tested on other models) then the range of the service layer would be extended without developers having to worry about setting up their own support ecosystem. On that note, manufacturer specific applications like Nokia's Ovi Maps with built in free navigation or Samsung's excellent Music Player build could be made available to users of other handsets in the same family for a price, perhaps downloaded via the Software Update client.

All in all, the support layer is something that makes a difference when it's missing, but fragmentation of the OS is the big issue that causes the support layer to be missing in the first place. By setting up a system where users can take elements other manufacturers have pioneered, the OS becomes as robust as it was a couple of generations ago and the development of the support layer is both shared by manufacturers as well as built by the user to their own specifications.

Old 27-07-2010, 02:23 PM
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The very least that the Symbian Foundation can do is to make a common sync centre for all Symbian based phones. The current system is terrible. The conflicts and refusal to communicate if you try to install more than one of the programs (Ovi Suite, Samsung PC Suite, etc.) sours the whole experience, even for a Symbian diehard.
Whether the manufacturers are willing to give up their apps stores and exclusive lines, such as Ovi Maps, etc. is another story. If they see them as money makers or brand binders, then there's not much chance of it. The alternative is to set up a Symbian store for the generic apps and let the Nokia's, SE's, Samsung's, etc. have their stores for their branded apps.

Old 27-07-2010, 03:13 PM
Biggles Biggles is offline
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Yes, there is a gap.

I just couldn't recommend a non-Nokia Symbian phone to anyone. The Satio is great, but it's not got the eco-system that's required. Same applies to the Vivaz, Vivaz Pro and i8910. Which is a real shame, because they are the only Symbian handsets with the power to keep Symbian high end.

It's not even just the extra services from Ovi that make Symbian on another platform difficult. For instance, I downloaded Endomondo yesterday. It installed ok, but never once picked up a location. Gah.

Old 27-07-2010, 04:33 PM
UKJeeper UKJeeper is offline
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Another nodding head here. SE and Samsung really screwed up by not making sure they had FULL Symbian abilities, including OVI Store access and updates. They are orphaned devices, noses pressed up against the glass, looking at their pedigreed cousins.

Old 27-07-2010, 04:36 PM
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The Ovi Store is the most important service missing from non-Nokia symbian handsets. That Vivaz handset is one sexy beast with great hardware specs.
Symbian on non-Nokia manufactures becomes half baked with Nokia not providing at least some essential Ovi services . Android offers better baked solutions(not perfect) for Sony Ericsson, Samsung and LG. Hence the bakery names for each Android versions;-)

Old 27-07-2010, 05:11 PM
snoFlake snoFlake is offline
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Are there really going to be any non-Nokia Symbian devices? Samsung seemed to have definitely moved away (despite their general platform agnosticism) and the recent noises from Bert Nordberg at Sony Ericsson seemed to indicate they would be putting all their efforts into Android (although I suspect they will keep abreast with Symabian as an anti-Google hedge even though they probably won't release handsets). So the other two main Symbian manufacturers probably have very limited Symbian plans and therefore why should they invest in app storesw/services and what therefor is in it for Symbian if there are no manufacturers outside of Nokia (other than the very specialised Japan market requirements) to generate apps/services for. Are there any plans outside of Nokia for new Symbian handsets I certainly haven't seen any rumoured despite Lee Williams previous assertions.

Effectively the turgid development speed of Symbian seems to have driven all other manufacturers to other platforms leaving Nokia once again carrying the whole symbian project. So rather than grandiose ideas about public partnerships maybe they should really get Symbian ^4 out on time (unlike S^3) or at least as the open source coordinator cudgel Nokia into doing so and make sure it works and is absolutely what people want rather than worrying about platform expansion which seems at best a distant pipe dream.

Frankly if the Symbian device experience is compelling enough for users than other manufactures will be clamouring to get on board and differentiate themselves from the Nokia experience and would therefore do the heavy lifting on apps and services for the Symbian Foundation. But there aren't any clamours at the moment.

Old 28-07-2010, 12:31 AM
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had to go to android nexus one from symbian i8910 to use pixelpipe to continue using Ovi share. really sad situation.

Old 28-07-2010, 07:53 AM
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Yes and more...

Symbian is definitely missing a service layer. Ovi style apps and services should be available on all Symbian devices, regardless of manufacturer. Taking it a step further, Symbian needs to extend beyond phones into the digital media player space. That's right, I said it. Nokia (or someone else) should make a media player/gaming device that runs on Symbian. To be honest, what I'd like to see is Nokia create a version of the N8 with the phone part removed. Market it as the ultimate converged media device. If they did it right, and could price it right, it could be the first real competitor to the iPod. Apple's trump card, when it comes to the app store and building services is the iPod/iPad. No matter what carrier you choose, you can use one of those devices. (I'm in the states and it's obviously a bit more of an issue here than elsewhere.) It's a win/win for developers and consumers.

Old 28-07-2010, 09:59 AM
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It's worth pointing at that the very absence of a service layer makes Symbian attractive to some (potentially).

After all the service layer is where the money is. Android manufacturers are going to be careful hey don't become commodity hardware makers similar to PC manufacturers. Indeed this is the idea behind the thinking that a number of manufacturers may seek to loosen their ties / commitment to Android over time.

Certainly this is what Samsung is doing with Bada - and there have been similar rumblings from HTC.

What the Symbian Foundation may want to think about is what common elements they can deliver. Horizon seems like a great idea, but doesn't seem to have gone very far yet.

They might consider putting together a pre-packaged service layer option with a number of third party apps so manufacturers have something available off the shelf....
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