Is Symbian truly Dead?

There’s been so much talk about the impending demise of Nokia’s Symbian platform, the operating system powering almost all the phones in the Nokia range.

The Symbian operating has come in a lot of iterations over the years but the relevant ones today are;

SYMBIAN S40 – Introduced in 2002. It is regarded as the world’s most widely used mobile phone platform and is found in hundreds of millions of devices, mostly in low tier phones and a few mid-tier phones like the Nokia X3.

SYMBIAN S60v3 – Introduced in 2005. It is found in mid to top tier phones like the Nokia E series, N Series and C5.

SYMBIAN S60v5 – Introduced in 2008.Also found in mid to top tier phones like the Nokia N97, 5230, X6, C6 and 5800

SYMBIAN ^3 – To be debuted in Q3 2010 with the Nokia N8 smartphone. The OS is expected to feature better graphics, support multiple touch, better multimedia and multi tasking.

Collectively, the different Symbian platforms account for over 50% of the low and mid-tier sector’s total sales, with 27 million handsets shipped in Q2 2010 alone, a figure some manufacturers can not boast of in a year. This sector, i believe, is Nokia’s strength and i strongly believe that a very substantial part of this market are the emerging markets, mainly Asia and Africa. And with the highly anticipated release of Nokia C1 (Symbian 30) and C2 (Symbian 40) dual sim phones in Q4 2010, the market share can only grow bigger.

One thing is sure though, Symbian is no longer the OS of choice for high end phones because of its limited capabilities. Nokia’s response to the big players in the high end sector will be the MEEGO OS. It will definitely not be for the poor, at least not for now, the same way Symbian 60 phones were not for the poor when they debuted.

Meego OS is a merger of Nokia’s Debian based MAEMO and INTEL’s Fedora based MOBLIN OS (Mobile Linux).With this alliance, the resulting Meego OS will not be based on any major distribution, they are infact starting from the scratch. Meego powered devices are expected to debut before the end of 2010,but these devices are not limited to just smartphones but tablets and netbooks too.

Meego is not expected to replace symbian (immediately) as Nokia’s platform of choice, the two OSes are expected to coexist with Meego OS on high performance, high end smartphones, supporting different processors.

Definitely some platforms, like the Symbian 60v3, will be phased out like they’ve done with some other variants in the past. I doubt if Symbian in general will be phased out, at least not in the immediate future. The market has been segmented, cheaper priced devices with less fancy features, based on Symbian OS, will be made affordable to the penny pinchers while the bigger boys (and gals) will go for the better featured and premium priced Meego OS based devices.

Reactions, objections, infuriations Welcomed!

PS: Just read it up that there was never a SYMBIAN 60V4 because the No 4 means badluck in some Asian Cultures. Well, i guess it goes to show where most of Nokia’s bread is being buttered.

8 Comments

  1. Yomi says:

    Good question, pal.

    Answer: No; Symbian is not dead.

    A few corrections too:

    1. Symbian's weakness is not in any limited capabilities. Its weakness is primarilly the dated user interface. Symbian is more capable than most of the other mobile OSes out there, including iOS and Android.

    2. S40 is not Symbian.

    Good article. One that raises a valid question.

  2. EyeBeeKay says:

    far as i know, an operating system IS SOFTWARE.

    if we agree that the Symbian OS is as capable as they come, then it can not be gameover.

    as far as the user interface goes. i want to believe thirdparty applications can address a lot of the interface weaknesses.

    for example. on the Symbian S60 version 5 (touchscreen), an application called SPB Mobile Shell brings unprecedented interface functionality to the device.
    there are others in this mould, but this is the most notable as far as almost limitless configurability goes.
    now that symbian has been made opensource, i expect to see talented implementations of variants (just like we have with Android).

    the divergent strategy of different OS for different smartphone class is what has me confused! i do not envy the poor chaps who have to decide what platform for which to develop…

    • Yeah, i know SPB Mobile Shell. Used it for a while on my Windows Mobile Phones and on my Nokia phone.
      But i wonder if an average Nigerian really care much about the interface presented by the symbian phone, all they care for is how cheap. I went shopping for a phone for me wifey recently, was shocked when i got a 5230 for N24.5K! A symbian 60v5 touchscreen with GPS?!

  3. EyeBeeKay says:

    "But i wonder if an average Nigerian really care much about the interface presented by the symbian phone"

    i would have thought that too ! but can you imagine people are suggesting the replacement of Nokia"s CEO. because Nokia seems to be falling behind in the high-erend smartphone segment.

    and you can bet that, at the higher-end of the spectrum, people are not necessarily looking for sheer device competence – they are VERY concerned with the aesthetics, ergonomics and panache. basically, how buttery smooth the interface is.

    that class of customers can be quite finicky. they nitpick!

    i am still hanging my hat on Nokia"s ability to step up the game in this high-falutin segment..

  4. @Yomi

    I did a bit of a research on your comment and i wonder why Series 40 (S40) is popularly mistaken as symbian. A quick check on the internet confirms this fact. Why is it so?

  5. Yomi says:

    Hi Wale,

    I am not sure that I have run into many places where S40 is mistaken as Symbian. Maybe its because of the sites that I browse regularly.

    Delighted to be here.

Leave a Comment