In a conference call this afternoon, Nokia and the Symbian Foundation outlined some major changes in how the Symbian operating system will be managed, going forwards. The Symbian Foundation will still handle licensing, trademark and patent issues, among other tasks, but all governance of the open source Symbian codebase will be taken up by Nokia. It was remarked that the 'foundation' model made perfect sense when there were five companies depending on the OS, but that it made less sense now, in late 2010.
Recent News - Industry - Page 7
No credibility but Symbian is still "the most successful failure" in tech history, says former engineer
A hugely entertaining read by Tim Ocock (formerly of Symbian) over on Tech Crunch Europe this morning. Ocock’s well placed to comment on “The Successful Failures” of Symbian, as he straddled engineering and management during his time at the company. Starting at the birth of Symbian, right through to his current advice to Nokia and the Symbian Foundation (ditch S40, support your developers with useful API’s and tools, and spend time educating the market and the Analysts), this is one to read over lunch."
SYMBEOSE, a consortium of organisations, led by the Symbian Foundation, has successfully applied for funding from the Artemis Joint Technology Initiative, which is partly backed by the Europe Commission and aims to facilitate public-private partnership for research and development activities in embedded systems. As a result, the Symbian ecosystem will see an investment of €22 million, which will be focused on improving the ease of device creation, improving a number of the platform's core enablers and meeting requirements for future embedded systems.
The cliche is that a picture is worth a thousand words, but I have to hand it to Horace Dediu at Asymco. His graph of "sales vs profit per handset" not only shows how profitable some of the major manufacturers are, but also how Apple and Nokia are working completely different strategies in sales.
While it’s not the Q3 smartphones table, the latest numbers from IDC on global phone shipments make for interesting reading. As always, the devil is in the detail and you can argue this is good (or bad) news for any company, but Apple displacing Sony Ericsson will be a cause for celebration at Cupertino, especially as this is the first Top 5 table Sony Ericsson has not been in since this report started in 2004. Nokia is still on top of the pile with 32.4% market share on increased shipments of 1.8%, worldwide.
Possibly of most interest to developers and those 'in' the industry, I wanted to flag up that, despite all recent announcements and speculation, The Symbian Foundation's SEE 2010 event takes place on the 9th and 10th of November at the Beurs van Berlage in Amsterdam, billed as "the only event dedicated to bringing the Symbian community together and providing unique knowledge and insight from industry experts". Attendance is free to all, as usual. Some more details below.
Nokia today made an announcement that clarifies and simplifies its developer and software platform strategy. Nokia will focus on Qt as the sole application development framework across both MeeGo and Symbian, reinforcing and accelerating Nokia's previous commitment to it. Nokia will also develop its own future UI applications using Qt.
The planned and future development of the higher layers of Symbian OS itself will also rely heavily on Qt; Nokia says this will "allow a continuous improvement of the Symbian experience" and, critically, will be compatible with the existing Symbian^3 platform and devices. This will mean that existing Symbian^3 devices will be included in future updates and will receive many of the user experience and application improvements originally planned for Symbian^4. Going forward, Nokia will simply refer to the platform as 'Symbian', without any version specifics.
Nokia has released their Q3 2010 results, reporting an operating profit of €529 million, with net sales of €10.3 billion. Nokia's device and service division's profits were €807 million, up 3% year on year. Margins in devices and services were 10.5% (down 0.9% YoY and up 0.9% QoQ). The figures beat market expectations. Converged devices sales (smartphones) were significantly up, at 26.5 million, compared with 16.4 million units in Q3 2009 (up 61% YoY) and compared with 24 million units in Q2 2010 (up 10%, QoQ). Worldwide smartphone market share was 38%, down 3% sequentially but up 2% year on year.
The Symbian Foundation has announced that Lee Williams has stepped down, for personal reasons, from his role of Executive Director of the Symbian Foundation. He is to be replaced by Tim Holbrow with immediate effect. Holbrow is a member of the Symbian Leadership Team and was previously responsible for Operations (covering Finance, IT, Infrastructure and property services) at the Foundation.
It used to be that mobile phone networks were scared of being nothing more than pipes for data and calls, so they added extra features to make them portals rather than pipes. But the increasing number of smartphones coming to market mean they now have another approach to ward off this fear – the added value on top of the Operating System to make the network version of a popular handset 'better' than the stock factory model. But in the process, this creates a handset that's not what the end-user expects, creates user interface discrepancies, and frustrates their own customers as to the capabilities of the device they see talked about online, and the one in their hand. Have the networks forgetten how to balance their needs with the needs of the users?
A couple of interesting links of interest in the last 24 hours over on Nokia's official blog. Nokia’s new devices and the environment looks at some facts behind progress at keeping phones and their packaging as 'green' as possible. I guess when you're selling over a million phones a day then you have to really worry about the impact you're having on the planet! Also of interest was this drum-thumping post on entitled Nokia ranks number one as mobile Web platform, referring to new stats from Opera that show that in the top 20 tech-capable countries, in 16 of them a Nokia device was the leading phone used to browse the web. Some quotes below from each.
Symbian have announced the line up of the Application Developer Track at the upcoming Exchange and Exposium in Amsterdam next month. With notable contributions from Nokia and Orange, the event is well on course to its goals of sharing experience and knowledge throughout the community.
As Engadget puts it, "the other shoe just dropped" for anyone hoping that Samsung might yet be planning a Symbian^4 device or two in the future. In an email out to registered developers and on the Samsung Mobile Innovator web site, the company says that it "will discontinue its Symbian support service from December 31st 2010". Sad news from the company that brought us the i8910 HD, among other interesting and powerful designs.
NyTeknik, a weekly Swedish technology newspaper, is reporting that Jan Uddenfeldt, Sony Ericsson's new CTO, said that the company "have no plans for new products with Symbian". While this is not a definitive statement, it would appear to rule out any Symbian^3 handsets from Sony Ericsson and leave longer term plans uncertain. It follows on from the recent news that Samsung also has no current plans for Symbian handsets.
Both Gartner and IDC recently published predictions of where the smartphone world will go over the next four years, in part backing up each others conclusions, but with some divergence. Pulling out the trends and actual figures needed a little more digging, but I've averaged the two sets of predictions and filled in (and interpolated where necessary) to give you a chart that's a lot easier to take in. Are both Gartner and IDC infallible? Certainly not, but the combined chart should give a more balanced prediction than the current fashionable 'Symbian is toast' rhetoric...