Nick Jones, a VP at Gartner, is not holding out much hope for recent changes aimed at making Symbian viable again. Sure Symbian and Nokia still have enormous market share, but with Samsung closing in on Nokia’s handset crown, and Nokia relegating Symbian to feature phones in the future due to pressure from Android and iOS 4 it is clear the Salad Days at the Symbian Foundation are over.
Jones feels that the only way to save Symbian is for the Symbian Foundation and Nokia (who write most of the actual code) to focus every single resource at the upcoming new version….and he doesn’t see that. Instead, Symbian is still acting like the comfortable incumbent, dabbling in side projects and interesting academic discussions. Everyone else knows that Symbian is fighting for its life and losing…why doesn’t Symbian?
According to Jones…
Forget elegant architecture, forget better multitasking, forget Chinese developers, forget release schedules that don’t deliver S4 devices with a new user experience until 2011. None of these matter. People will never use the features if they don’t buy the phone. The situation is now serious enough that any developer who isn’t working on something directly related to a new UI is wasting their time. The S4 UI is a “bet the platform” project. For any organisation to be in a situation where its survival depends on one project is very dangerous, especially when their track record in the area isn’t outstanding. I think the Foundation needs a contingency plan in case the planned S4 interface isn’t radical enough or good enough. Maybe redirect some developers and start a couple of skunkworks projects to create new competing UIs for S4, or perhaps announce a competition with a $1M prize for a new Symbian UI to encourage some radical ideas.
I must admit, I agree with him. Symbian hasn’t been innovative in a while with Nokia devoting what creativity it can muster to Maemo, soon it will no longer even be relevant. The window of opportunity to change that is closing fast. Will Nokia take the wheel and change Symbian’s course or is it full speed ahead? Somehow, I don’t think Symbian will be King of the World ever again.