Reports of Symbian's death have been overstated

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Two days after its investor-focused Strategy and Financial meeting, much covered in previous stories, Nokia held a more consumer-focussed press conference just before Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. While the overall message was no different to Friday's event, Nokia did provide some additional details on its short-term Symbian plans. These include a wave of new devices and significant software updates for Symbian^3. [Story updated after Rafe got back from the event]

This reinforces the idea, which we touched on in our initial coverage and discussed in more detail in the podcast, that Symbian, during the next few years, will continue to have a very significant role to play in Nokia's device portfolio. Thus, while the end of the Symbian platform's life has been signposted, it is premature to announce its death.

Elop on stagePhoto credit J Fourgeaud

Symbian^3 updates and new devices

During today's event, Stephen Elop was once again on stage explaining the details of Nokia's new strategy. He was joined by Jo Harlow, the new head of the new 'Smart devices' division. She made it clear that there would be "new Symbian devices, [running on] new hardware with 1GHz [plus] processors and faster graphics". We've embedded the video of Jo's slot and more from Mr Elop, at the end of this news item, below.

Harlow went on to talk about "UI improvements" which would bring "a fresh look and feel". These updates likely revolve around what has previously been described as PR 2.0 and PR 3.0. 

Stephen Elop backed up this message, during the question and answer session, by saying that there are a "fresh wave of Symbian products and updates on the way". Elop noted that this was an important part of the transition strategy because he recognised how critical it was to keep current customers happy, so that they would transition to the next generation of products.



Jo Harlow also touched on the question of when the first Nokia Windows Phone device would be available. She noted that it was not possible to provide any timing information at this stage as Nokia are still working on the details. However, she did suggest that "her boss would be happier if it were in 2011". This suggests that Nokia will seek to bring a device to market as quickly as possible, but sensibly is not willing to make a binding commitment.

A chart from the Friday event, showing Symbian fading away and Windows Phone taking its place caused a great deal of discussion and comment. We would also draw your attention to the Nokia text at the bottom of the illustration - "for illustrative purposes only - not a forecast". Note that this chart is an illustration of net sales (value) not shipment numbers (share).

Nokia deliberately did not provide a timescale because there is still a great detail of planning to do around the transition and future plans. The timing will also likely be determined by the market response to future devices, which at this early stage is difficult to predict. 

However we can make an educated guess at timing, as shown in the modified graphic below. 

Chart, with dates estimated  

The next event is a Nokia Developer Day, which kicks off at 10am (9am GMT) tomorrow. Rafe will be reporting live. You can follow our live coverage via our Twitter account (@aas). This will be particularly interesting, since we'd have expected developer confidence (especially in the Qt community) to have taken a serious knock by Friday's somewhat dismissive announcements.

Rafe Blandford and Steve Litchfield, AAS, 13 Feb 2011

Unedited video from tonight's event, if you want to watch Jo Harlow's whole spot and further answers from Stephen Elop:

And right after the event, Ewan MacLeod caught up with Rafe to ask him his thoughts: