Samsung has today confirmed that it is ditching Nokia’s smartphone operating system, telling developers that it will be closing its Symbian forum and deleting Symbian content from the start of December. The news comes just days after Sony Ericsson made a similar announcement, saying it’s central focus would become Android and, to an extent, Windows Phone 7.
And for Nokia, the people behind Symbian who spent so much of their recent Nokia World gathering telling the world and his wife why Symbian 3 is the future, the timing couldn’t be worse. The flagship N8 started shipping on September 30th, but the OS it rocks is now surely shot through and utterly compromised, with other mobile makers desperate to hitch themselves to Microsoft and Google’s bandwagons.
While Symbian still sits pretty at the top of the smartphone pile, it’s now being pilloried from all sides. Android is eating into its marketshare, BlackBerry is making a play for supremacy once again, while iOS remains sturdy and solid, with yet another stellar update round the corner. Analysts are all agreed that Symbian won’t grow in the coming years.
Even Nokia admits that MeeGo will gazump it as its headline OS soon enough. So is there really any point in continuing to persist with Symbian in its top-end phones?
The E7 perhaps is a good example of Nokia doing something cool with Symbian, but that won’t be on shelves until January 2011, a month before Mobile World Congress, when doubtless a new MeeGo phone will trump it and Android 3.0 will be the talk of the town. Samsung and Sony Ericsson’s decisions aren’t exactly a surprise though.
Their recent S60 phones have hardly set the world alight. The Sony Ericsson Vivaz might have had a great camera, but its touchscreen was abysmal, as was its utterly impossible interface. Phones like the i8510 from Samsung were good at the time, but now look dated and hardly match up to the stunning work Sammy is doing with Android these days.
This kind of move is exactly what outgoing Nokia smartphone chief was referring to when he said Android was like, “…peeing in your pants to keep warm”. He thinks everyone is betting the farm unnecessarily on Google’s OS. But in Samsung and Sony Ericsson’s case, that’s because Google and now Microsoft have created operating systems that people can get excited about, that are easy-to-use and don’t have drill down menu systems that cause obscene levels of frustration.
Symbian is paying the price now for dropping the ball years ago. No matter how many Symbian 3 phones Nokia releases, they’ll never match the current Android output or the forthcoming WinPho 7 efforts. It’s time to admit defeat and keep Symbian for cheaper devices.