It seems that so-called “burning platform” hasn’t been razed to the ground just yet. Nokia has confirmed that it’s holding a Symbian event on April 12th in London, with Symbian phones taking centre stage. Invites say attendees will discover "what’s new with Symbian smartphones.” But considering the OS has been pretty much completely undermined, what exactly will be revealed?
We already know that Nokia is plotting a major over-the-air update to the OS, with its Indian chief even saying that the mobile-maker would release 12 smartphones in 2011. And if the online rumour mill is to believed, we can take it as read that the much-touted new-look operating system is much more finger-friendly and sports a breezier and less awkward interface.
It’s understandable that Nokia wants and needs to keep up its presence in the smartphone space. If it doesn’t, then it’ll be completely trounced by the growing number of Android rivals, HP’s forthcoming webOS phones, Windows Phone 7’s second wave and, of course, the iPhone 5.
In that respect, continuity makes sense. But it also begs the question why Stephen Elop was so swift to jump in with Microsoft and Windows Phone 7, when a Nokia phone packing the Big M’s operating system isn’t going to be released until 2012. Surely, if Nokia wants to compete, it needs to roll out its big guns now? A WP7 phone, for example.
As it is, we’re likely to see hardware that will doubtless be impressive, but running software that, no matter what Nokia does, is completely tainted in the eyes of the smartphone world. Symbian’s finished on smartphones, no matter what Nokia might say to the contrary.
Updating it and giving old phones a new lease of life is great, but it’s hard to see what Nokia plans to achieve by releasing new phones using it. Surely Espoo was working towards a deal with Microsoft months before it was actually announced. So why aren’t we getting the Windows Phone 7 phone we all want to see now? It’s all starting to smack of Nokia’s delaying tactics, which saw the N97 undermined and the N8 practically dead on arrival.
Then there’s the question of who exactly will buy a new Symbian phone now? Smartphone savvy consumers will know how good Android is, why iOS is so popular, and will choose them instead once they try devices in store.
Nokia can, of course, continue to succeed in the feature phone market, but with Android battling it out there too it’ll be hard for Espoo to show why its phones are any better.