Steve Jobs dies, his legacy lives on - even in the world of Symbian

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As every other news outlet is reporting this morning, we awoke with the announcement that Steve Jobs had passed away after a long battle with cancer. Although not a Symbian story per-se, there's a lot about Jobs which affected the way the industry and even the world of Symbian in recent years. Here are a few short thoughts.

The news is, of course, very sad. Jobs' vision and drive was legendary and it was perhaps inevitable that when he turned his attention to smartphones, that industry would be changed significantly.

Back in 2007, Nokia had the hugely innovative N95, showcasing a number of technologies which we all now take for granted. But Apple introduced the iPhone too, essentially a dumb phone in terms of features, but with a radical capacitive touchscreen - and the device was all display. Nokia had experimented with all-touch devices before (remember the 7710?), but without much passion and the stylus/resistive screen UI was uninspired.

So we then had Nokia working with Symbian to try and get closer to the iPhone in interface while keeping all the N95's hardware innovations, and Apple evolving its hardware to try and overtake where Nokia and others were, while keeping the all-touch, intuitive interface front and centre.

In terms of races, it took four years but Apple did win - it turned out to be easier to upgrade hardware than reinvent a software interface. This is a somewhat simplistic analysis and there are other factors involved, of course, covered in other editorials here.

But it's safe to say that without Steve Jobs' iPhone all-touch epiphany, we wouldn't have today's N8 in its current form, for example, let alone the myriad similar designs on every other mobile platform. In an Apple-less world, what would the Symbian 2011 smartphone look like? Where else could the world of smartphones have gone? There's still a lot to recommend classic designs like the Nokia N95 8GB (imagine that with the N8's camera and a 1GHz processor!), but could that form factor have survived for this long? Comments welcome.

In the meantime, RIP Steve Jobs, everyone in the tech and mobile worlds will miss your influence greatly.

Steve Litchfield, All About Symbian, 6th October 2011