Posts Tagged ‘Symbian’

Nokia grabs control of Symbian, downsizes Foundation

Monday, November 8th, 2010

Nokia is taking over the governance of Symbian, leaving the non-profit Foundation as a vestigial organisation in name only.
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Nokia ends cruel and unusual ‘Symbian programming’ practices

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

Nokia has bowed to international pressure and agreed to end the cruel and unusual practice of programming natively for the Symbian OS. It still wants developers to target Symbian, but using the more humane Qt APIs instead.

Nokia has also torn up the OS roadmap, and will speed up the delivery of new functionality to users in chunks, as and when it’s ready, instead of in milestone releases. In less prominent statements, Nokia has clarified what had become a very confusing development picture.
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Farewell then, Symbian

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

Ten years ago to the day, I attended the surprise foundation of Symbian. I was in Norway and sorry to miss the event today that closed the chapter – and probably the book – on the great adventure.

I find it exquisitely ironic that the philosophy behind the decision to end Symbian’s independent existence as a joint-ownership, for-profit consortium has its roots in the Microsoft antitrust trial. Symbian was created because the leading phone manufacturers desperately wanted to avoid Microsoft’s desktop monopoly being extended to mobile devices. They didn’t want a dependency on high license fees, rigid requirements and poor code.

Well. Philosophy might be a grand way of putting it – it’s more of a fashionable buzzword. This is the idea of “multi-sided markets”, which when you get down to it, is really just a fancy way of describing cross subsidization. The case for a “multi-sided business model” was made in an economic defence of Microsoft’s strategy of bundling Windows Media Player with Windows in the EU antitrust case. So take a bow, economist Richard Schmalensee, Microsoft’s favourite economist. It was Schmalensee who in the US antitrust trial argued that the true price for Microsoft Windows should be around $2,000 per license. The idea that emerged from the EU trials was that WMP created a “platform”, and therefore consumer benefits. The idea here is that Nokia, which now entirely owns Symbian, will cross-subsidize the market by giving away the Symbian OS, er … platform, royalty free.
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Why didn't Nokia become the next Sony?

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

When, a few years ago, I described Sony and Nokia as the only two companies who could call the shots in consumer electronics, a few eyebrows were raised. Sony, yes. But Nokia?

I anticipated that success in smartphones would be a beachhead into a bunch of other consumer electronics markets. Few noticed that Nokia already made TVs and set-top boxes. It had just launched a games console, too.

In fact, Nokia had began planning for “mobile multimedia convergence” in the mid-1990s, when it began sniffing out a next-generation operating system – it eventually opted for Psion’s Epoc, which became Symbian OS. For years Nokia put its best brains on the task – and sat back and waited. And waited.

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Panic in smartphoneland

Monday, November 5th, 2007

Google is set to give the mobile phone business a body blow today – the second punch in the guts it’s had this year. Apple delivered the first blow, by turning the operators’ subsidy model upside down – as well as making rival manufacturers look like knuckle-dragging Neanderthals. But Google’s arrival may prove to be more dramatic and far reaching for the business.

Google is expected to give away the platform required to create a sophisticated smartphone to OEMs. Its strategy is to extend its digital advertising business into new areas – and the phone is the vehicle.

In a research note for Dresdner Kleinwort published last month, an understated Per Lindberg summed it up:

“Other players, accustomed to riding on operators’ subsidy business model, notably Nokia and RIM, would have to absorb much of the ‘marketing expenses’ themselves. Such a transformation of the competitive landscape could have overwhelmingly effects [sic] on industry-wide profitabilities and market share distributions.

Indeed, and at the Symbian Smartphone show last month, the question of Google’s imminent entry into the market hung over the event.

Symbian came about because of a common resolve by the three largest handset makers – others soon joined – to create a mass market for smartphones. At the time, and it’s almost a decade ago now, the company predicted a market of around 400 million “wireless information devices” per annum by the mid-2000s. While Symbian’s annual run rate is only just reaching about a third of that, it’s arguable whether there’s a smartphone market today at all.

Blackberry claims around 10 million users for its messaging service, but most of the rest of those devices are expensive fashion statements; the “smart” features go unused. Technically, these devices are quite amazing, but like the expensively-built 3G networks they’re all dressed up with nowhere to go. The operators’ massive investments in building up high speed data capacity haven’t found a market.

So, Google is addressing this from both a supply side and a demand side.

The supply side envisages much cheaper devices, subsidised by advertising and location services. The demand side sees users rushing to use Google services such as YouTube, Maps, and its search engine on a mobile.

One of these looks a better bet than the other.

Psion: The story of the Last Computer

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

This long (40-page) history of Britain’s last computer company, Psion, was written over four days. It’s the longest piece The Register has ever run, we made it available as a PDF (for a small fee).

Included are full transcripts of interviews with David Potter, Martin Riddiford, Mark Gretton, David Tupman and Nick Healey. (Charles Davies was interviewed too late for inclusion).

Start here.

What sealed Palm's software fate?

Saturday, September 10th, 2005

So, PalmOS ends up in the hands of an Japanese mobile browser company that almost no one has ever heard of. It’s a sad sign that expectations for PalmOS software have been so low, for so long, that PalmSource stock leapt 70 per cent on the news.

The origins of this decline have been well documented here at El Reg, we’ll only recap the key mistakes before raising a spectre that haunts this tale of Silicon Valley history: a spectre called Apple. 

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