Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Symbian vs. Android vs. Windows MobileI spent a night last week at a Symbian dinner. Very interesting discussions with other mobile bloggers (the real ones, I do it as a hobby...), with an hands-on pretty cool demonstration of the Nokia N97 (yes, it is a very nice device, a mix between a N95 and a Tablet N810, although I am not a big fan of sliding keyboards).
Most of my thoughts on Symbian, though, were on the open source plans. They confirmed to be on track for a 2010 full release, although some parts will be available in open source earlier. They told me they have some components that they can't open source right away, which is a quite common problem for commercial products that want to become open source (and very painful to complete to the last bit).
Since the complete take-over from Nokia, my antennas in the market have been up to see if some of the Symbian backers would defect to other initiatives. The one to look for are device manufacturers.
Yesterday, I saw the first sign: Sony Ericsson announced support for the Open Handset Alliance, the one behind Android, led by Google.
This is big news.
I know, I know, everyone is announcing support for everything... It is no big deal. Sony Ericsson has Windows Mobile as well... blah blah.
Still, it is a flag. They have been a huge supporter of Symbian and they are breaking out from the pack, now that Nokia owns it completely.
There is a possibility that Symbian will end up being a one-device-manufacturer-shop (Nokia), while Android will see lots of device manufacturers, because they do not perceive Google to be competitive in their space. And they have the feeling they can strip out Google features from Android and launch phones on a well supported platform, with development mindshare and applications.
This spells trouble for Nokia, if it happens, since developers go where devices are. Making Symbian open source might not be enough, although it is a very significant step in the right direction.
Anyway, I still believe Microsoft will open source Windows Mobile in the not-too-distant future. They have no other choice. But I am very alone on this one :-)
Posted by Fabrizio at 17:32
Adam Leach said...
Nokia going open source with Symbian and Android's continuing momentum will certainly put pressure on Microsoft to consider open source but I can't see them doing it, its just not in their nature, however, they still have the ability to offer Windows Mobile at a very competitive royalty rate (e.g. zero) if they want to. Not for any manufacturer but if you have the right 'consumer' brand with the right 'consumer' product I'm sure they will cut a very competitive deal.
Comment Posted at 07:58
Good points and I agree.
Unfortunately, it's *NOT* about open source.
And it's not about über-features either.
It's about developer learning curve, developer friendliness, developer speed, developer cost and developer productivity.
On all of these Symbian sucks farts out of dead cats, if you pardon my expression.
It's too big, too time consuming to learn, too convoluted, too difficult to develop, program, debug and certify for.
This is what will ultimately kill it.
Systems with much less features, worse power savings, smaller number of core libraries and less support for various hardware pieces will run past it.
Because they are simpler, easier to learn and more developers will get on the bandwagon.
Nokia has been warned about this for 4+ years now, but there is very little they can do about it.
Either they prolong their fight and try to bring something else to the table while Symbian limps along, OR they put all of their efforts behind Symbian in one giant succeed/fail gamble.
My guess is that they have plan B, in some form, somewhere, cooking up.
- anynymous for a reason