Symbian has at least another year of life

28 Feb 2011

Nokia’s smartphone partnership with Microsoft doesn’t spell the end of its legacy Symbian platform.

Ever since Stephen Elop and Steve Ballmer announced the Windows Phone 7 collaboration a fortnight ago, the vendor has been in PR overdrive to explain that Symbian isn’t dead.

First, Elop noted that Nokia isn’t abandoning its Series 30 and 40 platforms for mass-market smartphones, which both utilize Symbian, though he hinted the WP7 platform is more suitable for its current E-series line of business oriented devices.

Then, at the Mobile World Congress, chief technology officer Rich Green noted that Symbian will remain a mainstay of Nokia devices for some time.

Operating systems don’t disappear overnight, and there is life in the old dog yet in terms of future shipments of up to 150 million devices. Those units will add to the 200 million or so Symbian handsets already in the market, meaning the platform should remain a good target for apps developers, Green said.

This week, Vlasta Berka, general manager for Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei revealed the firm is continuing to develop the platform, with 50 updates in the works for 2011. He noted the number of devices in the market means it would be madness for Nokia to simply walk away from the platform.

While that all seems well and good, Rethink Wireless’ Caroline Gabriel suggests another reason for Nokia’s apparent continued support for Symbian - time.

Put simply, it could take up to a year to develop the first WP7 Nokia smartphone, and even then it is likely to be a high-end unit that does little to address the mass-market opportunity, which poses a problem for Nokia because that’s where the bulk of its device sales currently lie.

Gabriel estimates it could take up to two years for Nokia WP7 smartphones to filter down the value chain.

And let’s not forget that value chain includes the current Ovi Store ecosystem, which has a well established range of local content and billing options.

Indeed, the vendor this week announced a collaboration with India’s second largest carrier, Reliance Communications, to provide its first tailored Ovi Store in the country.

While Ovi Store is already available in India, the RCom version will be the first to be integrated with a carrier’s billing system, offering applications in local currency and ditching the need for a credit card required by the general version of the store.

Thumbail image from server side store: 

Michael Carroll


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