More Symbian News


This isn't a link site - I don't want to just throw out a bunch of news that I've read tonight, but there is SOOOO much stuff coming out of 3GSM it's overwhelming. I can hardly blog and read at the same time. Anyways, here's the Symbian news that I thought were very interesting.

First, Nokia and SonyEricsson are going to work together to make it easier to develop applications for both Series60 and the UIQ (the P800 user interface). This is cool because there was a subtle divergence happening in the Symbian world between the two platforms (3650/7650 and P800). I'm not really sure what they can do to fix this since the UIs are very different as are the versions of the OS (6.1 vs 7.0) and other factors, but the fact is that the core of Symbian is the same. So if you're developing an app - the majority of your code should be portable.

This sudden announcement of amnesty points to an interesting article over at the Register about how Symbian is taking charge of their platform again. It looked for a while like Nokia was leading the way with all the Series60 licensees they've gathered. However, since the P800 is such a hit, Symbian has started realizing the potential for their UI and have announced UIQ version 2.1. Rafe has a great analysis of this over at All About Symbian:

During 2002 UIQ looked like it might fade away as Symbian concentrated on the OS rather than the UI (basically precipitated by Series 60, but also other factors). However at cannes Symbian appears to be playing up UIQ again, and it no has its own website (which is very nice). Furthermore an update has been announced taking UI to version 2.1 (you can see a nice history of the UI from its first 1.4 VGA implementation through to the current fat and thin UIQ on the new website).

The update to 2.1 'introduces new functionality and customization possibilities. It also includes, for the first time, an integrated telephony application'. Other updates inlcude support for MIDP version 2.0 and enhance graphics and sound for gaming. The customisation upgrade aminly sounds to be in form of themes (like the T68i?) - 'a series of background wallpapers, color schemes and sounds, which can be used for branding as well as personalization of the phone by the end-user'.

Looks like it all good stuff, and the fine tuning of an already excellent interface. When we'll see this new UIQ is unclear, but it isn't beyond reason to think that it could be seen in a future P800 firmware upgrade. Certainly it will be seen in BeneQ 3Q UIQ device.

It seems likely that there may be more UIQ devices in the pipeline, and this is an important step for Symbian as it gives it another area besides Series 60 and shows it can be a sucessful mutliple area company. Accusations thta it was becoming a Nokia puppet are certainly weakened by this announcement (along with all the other 3GSM news). Who knew UIQ devices might come from is very difficult to say although the Register suggests handspring (half jokingly perhaps) in this article about the announcement.

Whatever happens it seems UIQ has a bright future. I for one am very glad, because it seems to be this interface is the closest yet to smartphone / converged device perfection.

So you can see that Symbian is starting to get its act in gear, realizing the potential of its own UI and getting its licensees to play nice. This is all good, but that's only one side of the story. The other side is Symbian's financial future. Samsung just bought a 5% stake, but as a profitable company Symbian has a lot more ground to cover:

Symbian Chases Distant Profits

Mobile phone operating system company Symbian has admitted that it could be years away from profitability, even with financial backing from the main mobile handset players.

At this week's 3GSM World Congress in Cannes, Symbian revealed that two million phones equipped with its operating system were shipped during 2002.

But when asked by when the the company expected to make a profit, the company's chief financial officer Thomas Chambers admitted that it would take the shipping of 18 million Symbian-powered handsets per year.

"We make about $5 (�3.10) from each unit licence and about 80 per cent of that is gross profit after costs," Thomas said.

"It may be unusual for a chief financial officer not to be able to tell you when his company will make a profit, but I cannot predict handset sales."

Hmm. So Nokia is predicting 10 million Series 60 phones, yet Symbians CFO doesn't want to commit to being profitable at 18 million... weird.

Anyways, this is all interesting stuff. Trying to follow it all is crazy, but it looks like I'm starting at a good time. This is when it's all happening. It has to have been torture following Symbian up until now with such potential and so few products in the pipeline. Now there's announcements like crazy, more than half a dozen phones out there or coming soon, etc. I'm glad to come late to this party, now that all the actions started!


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