Ricky bases his post on premise that:
“It is going to be easier for Nokia and Microsoft to add features to Windows Phone 7 than it would be for Nokia to update and beautify the Symbian operating system.”
Espousing the argument that Symbian is old, he writes:
“The Symbian platform is old – it was originally developed in the 1990s, ironically as a way for Nokia and other partners to avoid licensing Microsoft’s new Windows Mobile platform. The entire operating system, down to its core components, is over 10 years old, going on 15. That’s old from a software standpoint, and downright ancient from a mobile operating system perspective.
The problem with this, then, is that along the way, the operating system has been updated to support various new features – a webkit based browser, the ‘always-on’ connectivity, high-resolution cameras and displays, and other more modern smartphone features. These additions have been tacked onto the older core, and the result is a monstrous amount of code, some of it only barely hanging together by a thread. Sure, the homescreens and icons have been updated, but as even the most ardent Symbian fanboys can attest, it’s still pretty much the same when you dig down into the menus and layout and such.”
I would also debate that the underlying menu structure remained the same in Symbian^3 purely because of the underlying operating system. Rather, Nokia has stuck to evolutionary steps of their touch UI because, as Marko Ahtisaari has said, “there is a lot of muscle memory out there”. Having been the largest selling smartphone platform in the world, many people were familiar with Nokia’s touch UI (regardless of whether one liked it not), and so alienating that user base was understandably a sensitive issue.
“Unfortunately, because it is still technically at v1.0, the Windows Phone platform is not nearly as feature-complete as Symbian is. Glaring omissions include copy/paste, multitasking, a decent webkit-based browser, Internet tethering, and other modern niceties. This is similar to how both iOS and Android started out, and look how well they’ve developed over the past 2 years. Because the core systems do not contain any legacy code, these platforms are much more competitive and easier to update from a manufacturer’s standpoint.
So, Symbian lovers regard Windows Phone 7 as the most beautiful dumbphone operating system they’ve ever seen. They can’t begin to fathom how Nokia thinks this is a good idea, to replace the feature-rich Symbian platform with the borderline-dumbphone Windows Phone platform. They’re not looking at the big picture.”
“With Windows Phone, Nokia gets a platform that has already been rewritten from the ground up, and they’re getting in on it early enough that they will be able to help guide its future. While they have essentially become just another OEM, they still at least have a chance at helping influence the future of the platform, whereas with Android, they wouldn’t have had that opportunity. Windows Phone already has the baseline of modernization that Nokia needed Symbian to have.”
Ricky concludes on Windows Phone by saying:
“It has a very consistent (albeit limiting) user experience. It’s absolutely gorgeous, with little wasted space and a welcome absence of multi-layered menus and submenus.”
The trick for Nokia to get this transition right is, as Ricky points out in his post, the execution of its plans. Nokia has a long history of announcing things too far in advance, rather than keeping things hush-hush until they’re ready to roll. Yes, the Microsoft partnership was an awfully big secret to keep. However, I personally wish that they’d been able to get a Windows Phone device on the market much sooner after the announcement than it’s looking like they will.
David Gilson for All About Symbian, 15th February 2011.