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Symbian, the Biggest Mobile OS No One Talks About

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the no-death-grip-or-kill-switch-stories dept.

Cellphones 423

blackbearnh writes "The iPhone vs. Android wars are in full swing, but no one talks about the mobile operating system that most of the world uses: Symbian. Part of the reason, perhaps, is that the Symbian developer infrastructure is so different from the Wild West approach that Apple and Google take. Over at O'Reilly Answers, Paul Beusterien, who is the Head of Developer Tools for the Symbian Foundation, talks about why Symbian gets ignored as a platform despite the huge number of handsets it runs on. Quoting: 'Another dimension is the type of developer community. [Historically, Symbian's type of developers] were working for consulting houses or working at phone operator places or specifically doing consulting jobs for enterprise customers who wanted mobile apps. So there's a set of consulting companies around the world that have specialized in creating apps for Symbian devices. It's a different kind of dynamic than where iPhone has really been successful at attracting just the hobbyist, or the one- or two-person company, or the person who just wants to go onto the web and start developing.'"

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423 comments

They may not talk about it (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32801822)

But there always seems to be quite the buzz around this product.

Re:They may not talk about it (1, Interesting)

gyrogeerloose (849181) | more than 3 years ago | (#32801958)

But there always seems to be quite the buzz around this product.

Really? Point us to some of this buzz of which you speak.

The reason that no one talks about Symbian is that no one gives a fuck about it. Might as well ask why no on talks about COBOL.

Re:They may not talk about it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32802020)

WHOOSH

Re:They may not talk about it (1)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 3 years ago | (#32802140)

Really? Point us to some of this buzz of which you speak.

How about the FP article you're commenting in?

Just kidding. Slashdot is pants.

Re:They may not talk about it (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32802322)

Have you ever had your dick sucked by a man, Captain Splendid?

Do you want your dick sucked by a man?

How about a pair of men?

Mustachioed Italian men with overalls and plungers. After chubby and tallie break your ass in, they may perhaps shove a turtle shell down your pipe. This is the music that will play in the backgroud as you and the two Italians are gay-sexing:

Dun-nun dun du-nuh duh...dum. Dunt dunt dun...da na ta ta do da da da duh dunt dun da-na-nuh.

We're sorry, but our princess [horrorphile.net] is in another castle.

Re:They may not talk about it (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 3 years ago | (#32802150)

Both are dead ends.

Why develop serious applications for something that's only supported by a single manufacturer these days.

Re:They may not talk about it (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32802222)

iPhone/iOS is supported by a single manufacturer; and the one that behaves like Nazi SS guards at that...

Re:They may not talk about it (0, Troll)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#32802486)

What, iOS can determine the user's ethnicity and refuse services and/or abuse him based on it? How does it do that - facial recognition? Or is the shiny new external antenna a part of that too?

Re:They may not talk about it (-1, Offtopic)

spazdor (902907) | more than 3 years ago | (#32802578)

Next best thing: The racism is dereferenced onto the free market, so all they've gotta do is price it just out of reach of that Minority Section on the economic bell-curve.

Re:They may not talk about it (4, Informative)

oji-sama (1151023) | more than 3 years ago | (#32802416)

Both are dead ends.

Why develop serious applications for something that's only supported by a single manufacturer these days.

Right. Go see Symbian Foundation [symbian.org] and click devices, then select year 2010 and apply. Which one of them is the single manufacturer that supports this open source platform?

Re:They may not talk about it (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 3 years ago | (#32802488)

Informative. I didn't realize that Symbian was either so widespread, or that so many manufacturers were in on it. Maybe it's time I actually looked at them. I kinda sorta need a phone . . . . maybe.

Re:They may not talk about it (1)

oji-sama (1151023) | more than 3 years ago | (#32802654)

If you're interested in developing for it I would probably wait for phones that support QT. I have understood (or misunderstood) that some should be released fairly soon. (Or are there Symbian QT-phones out yet?)

At the moment, I'm using a cheap non touch S40 phone and I'm quite happy with it. (I mean, it's a phone and it works :D Surprisingly this includes tethering through bluetooth and basic email. Not much point in developing anything for it though.) With QT it should be possible to target both Symbian and Meego without too much trouble, which should be a lot more rewarding.

Re:They may not talk about it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32802746)

Or are there Symbian QT-phones out yet?

Newish symbian phones can install Qt retroactively. Apps using Qt can also request the phone to fetch and install Qt if it'd not already there.

Re:They may not talk about it (1)

hyartep (1694754) | more than 3 years ago | (#32802678)

Why develop serious applications for something that's only supported by a single manufacturer these days.

such as iphone/ios?

Symbian is a goner (5, Interesting)

MBCook (132727) | more than 3 years ago | (#32801834)

Isn't Nokia moving to MeeGo for their premier phones? Even the guy who runs a big Symbian fan site has given up [symbian-guru.com].

Re:Symbian is a goner (1)

s0litaire (1205168) | more than 3 years ago | (#32801968)

Think most makers (Including Nokia) will still be using Symbian on their Mid to low end mobiles for years to come.
If they would just drop the disaster that is the S60 GUI (Well I think it is) and build a decent GUI for Symbian it might stick around longer..

Re:Symbian is a goner (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32802082)

Think most makers (Including Nokia) will still be using Symbian

Nokia is pretty much the only major maker that uses Symbian today.

Re:Symbian is a goner (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 3 years ago | (#32802118)

Isn't Nokia moving to MeeGo for their premier phones?

Yes, Symbian is Nokia's (old, obsolete) OS for the mass-market phones that people buy when they just want a phone. That puts it out of the smartphone market, which is why "no one talks about it" when they're talking about Android and iOS. The article's attempt to equate Symbian with these is a bit disingenuous.

no, the bog standard phones are S40 (2, Informative)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 3 years ago | (#32802174)

Yes, Symbian is Nokia's (old, obsolete) OS for the mass-market phones that people buy when they just want a phone

Nope. That's the S40 range. Symbian is used on the smartphone range where ram,cpu,battery matter.

If you don't give a crap about battery life then there's the Linux systems which are coming in.
 

Re:no, the bog standard phones are S40 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32802536)

Symbian development is hard and time consuming. It took me 2 hours give or take few minutes (including download of SDKs and its setup) to get my first Hello World running on Apple and Android. Yet I spent countless hours in attempts to getting the SDK up and running for Symbian.
- Firstly there is S40, S60 and countless other types of symbian devices.
- Then there are versions to each of S40, S60 etc.
- To further aggravate the development site from Nokia is a huge mess, link organization reminds you of your favorite pasta with articles cross referencing each other in such a manner that hierarchical progress cannot be made, you can't keep track of what you have read and what grounds you have to cover.

In the end I gave up. I had started as I loved a few Nokia phones, starting my love with the N95 and ending with N86, with a couple in handsets from Nokia in between.

Re:no, the bog standard phones are S40 (2, Informative)

Steve Max (1235710) | more than 3 years ago | (#32802724)

I spent countless hours in attempts to getting the SDK up and running for Symbian.

My programming experience with Symbian has been very positive. I bypassed the whole SymbianC++ clusterfuck and went to Python [nokia.com]. Can't use it for a high performance game, sure, but all you have to do to start up is installing the framework on your phone. Your first "hello world" can't take more than a few minutes after that.

- Firstly there is S40, S60 and countless other types of symbian devices.

Actually, there's only Symbian. S40 isn't a smartphone OS and isn't related to Symbian in any way; and UIQ, Series80 and Series90 are completely dead. Symbian now is the evolution of what was called S60.

- Then there are versions to each of S40, S60 etc.

If you want to target any device that is on the market now (and that has been on the market for the past 3 years), all you have is the touchscreen Symbian^1 and the non-touch S60v3. Develop for S60v3 (or S60 3rd edition) and any Symbian device can run your program; develop for Symbian^1 (also called S60v5, or S60 5th edition) and any touchscreen Symbian can run your program.

Re:Symbian is a goner (2, Informative)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 3 years ago | (#32802558)

Nokia's "smartphones" (I hate that term, ever since Jobs redefined it to mean "Locked down phone that only runs software approved by the manufacturer" - Nokia has produced smartphones using the original definition, a phone that includes an open architecture pocketable computer, since the Nokia 9000) have run Symbian or its direct predecessors since the Nokia 9290. The OS has its roots in an OS developed originally for the Psion PDAs. The surprise, in many ways, is that it's used for bare bones phones, as its somewhat overengineered for such tasks.

I can't say I particularly like the environment, but to argue that it's unsuited, or unused, for smartphones is to demonstrate a certain amount of ignorance of the history of the OS. Arguably it's on a par with iOS in terms of capabilities, if not slightly more powerful, but lacking the standardized and high quality user interface of the latter. The lack of a requirement for apps to be managed code puts it slightly behind Android.

Re:Symbian is a goner (5, Interesting)

Luckyo (1726890) | more than 3 years ago | (#32802454)

SymbianS60v3 and S60v5 (also known as Symbian^1) still powers pretty much all nokia's touch screen phones, which alone sell more then android and iphone combined.
Symbian^2 is fairly popular in Japan, due to its extremely low system requirements (same as ^1 really), and some specialized features.
Symbian^3 which is being developed for n8 seems to be the natural evolution of Symbian^1, i.e. mid range smart phone OS.

The problem is that unlike android and iphone, these phones are very competitively priced, and sacrifice "bling" features for actual function, such as better features, lower price and business-directed application support. As a result, there's many fewer people with "loose money" who are willing to sink a few euros/dollars/etc into some funny looking application on a weekly basis. They also tend to look much less pretty, focusing on function, and have slower hardware, meaning less responsive UI, which is advertised as a major feature on IOS and android.

This is really noticeable even on OVI store. Almost no games, but a shitload of various business-oriented and rather expensive applications ranging from call recorders to improved ms exchange handling to translation software. This stuff just doesn't sell to the young adult croud. Add to that the fact that much of smartphone hype is US-driven, and Symbian being big pretty much everywhere in the world but the US, you get the perfect storm scenario where little players on the market completely outshine the real behemoth in marketing and publicity.

Re:Symbian is a goner (1)

hyartep (1694754) | more than 3 years ago | (#32802740)

nokia has three systems:

* s40 - closed system used for "feature phones"

* symbian - smartphones for the masses - smartphone, with apps+more but being phone is one of the primary functions

* meego - mobile computers (something like "iphone functionality") - everything you can imagine - in your pocket (phone as well, but it's not primary functionality).

Nothing to see here. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32801842)

Summary of interesting Symbian handsets on the market today:

*none*.

Symbian, the platform without a (decent) phone.

W
(I own a Nokia E-Series Symbian phone, and I hate it.)

Re:Nothing to see here. (2, Insightful)

24-bit Voxel (672674) | more than 3 years ago | (#32802114)

I've got a Nokia N95, which is a decent enough phone I guess, but the symbian OS is easily the 2nd clumsiest one I have ever used (first being windows mobile). It's like no one there cares at all about usability, almost like a Dilbert strip. My sound recorder is in office tools, for whatever reason, and it's like 7 clicks deep. I can't customize my appearance in terms of where buttons go or which do or don't show up very well, so whatever background image I am using is obscured by loads of useless crap I'll never need. Like the phone, hate the OS.

Re:Nothing to see here. (2, Funny)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#32802302)

I've got a Nokia N95, which is a decent enough phone I guess, but the symbian OS is easily the 2nd clumsiest one I have ever used (first being windows mobile).

Obviously, you've never used a Motorola phone with... what the hell do you call that operating system? Besides offensive?

Re:Nothing to see here. (1)

Steve Max (1235710) | more than 3 years ago | (#32802768)

You probably moved the sound recorder. You can move it back to wherever you want through the menu that comes from the left soft key. Also, if I understood well what you're saying, take some time to look at Tools -> Settings -> Phone Settings -> Standby mode.

Not to mention (2, Insightful)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#32801854)

The competitors are GOOGLE and APPLE, which have done more than just created a phone operating system, so they get a lot of buzz.

The fact that these two names come up more than twice Daily might have something to do with why I'd be interested in their phone business.

Re:Not to mention (2, Informative)

levell (538346) | more than 3 years ago | (#32802090)

Well Symbian has Nokia behind it, and they aren't a small company.

But I'm not persuaded it's all about the companies backing it. The soon to be released, MeeGo [meego.com] phones have Nokia backing too (as well as Intel) but I'm much more excited about that than Symbian. Having a fairly standard Linux stack on my phone is something I love about my N900 [nokia.com] and I'm looking forward to its successor.

It's just not American (-1, Troll)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 3 years ago | (#32802142)

Fact is, Symbian, Nokia, Sony/Ericsson are not American and most of the tech media (like /.) is American. It's just your normal American ignorance over what's happening in the rest (95%) of the world.

It's really just that simple.

Course the rest of the world often gets a little confused over the way Americans get excited over 3 year old features.
 

Re:It's just not American (5, Informative)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | more than 3 years ago | (#32802172)

As a Brit living in Switzerland, I disagree. Nobody cares about Symbian in Europe either.

Re:It's just not American (1)

johncadengo (940343) | more than 3 years ago | (#32802610)

Sad. As I post this comment there are 72 comments in this discussion.

A similar story on either the Android OS, or the iPhone OS, or the Android OS vs. the iPhone OS would have 720 comments by now.

Re:It's just not American (2, Insightful)

hyartep (1694754) | more than 3 years ago | (#32802762)

people in europe (non tech savvy) may not know "symbian" - they simply buy nokia. it's far more bigger buzzword.

Re:It's just not American (3, Insightful)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 3 years ago | (#32802268)

Yeah, that's why the iPhone has been selling so well in Europe and Japan.

No the real reason is that Nokia is a phone company. No one in tech news gives 2 shits about phone companies, they care about computer companies. Apple and Google, well they are computing companies, it's why they have actually made successful smartphone OSes and Nokia is lagging behind.

Re:It's just not American (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32802526)

The upper level phones in japan allow you to make standard touchless debit transactions and have television tuners. I have yet to see an "iPhone wows Japanese consumers" article yet.

Hmmm... (1, Insightful)

PmanAce (1679902) | more than 3 years ago | (#32801868)

Who is going to want to develop applications for tiny arse screens for example? That market is a goner.

Re:Hmmm... (1, Insightful)

dnaumov (453672) | more than 3 years ago | (#32801952)

So the phone OS with the biggest worldwide marketshare (and by quite a margin) is a "goner"? Because you said so? Noone talks and writes to the media about developing for Symbian simply because it isn't sexy.

Re:Hmmm... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32802074)

It is not a goner as an OS for mobile phones. It is a goner as a major platform for 3rd party apps and games on mobile smart phones. People who are interested in downloading and running lots of apps and games, probably own a droid, a nexus one or an iPhone. People who just use their phones as... hmmmm... phones, and don't give a shit about apps, are probably the biggest chunk of Symbian's market share.

Re:Hmmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32802838)

Have you ever heard of Qt? Nokia is now moving their OS-es (Symbian, MeeGo) to Qt. That makes the underlying OS pretty irrelevant as far as app development is concerned. Symbian isn't a goner. Symbian^4 is based on Qt, which is used for app development (including games).

Re:Hmmm... (1)

PmanAce (1679902) | more than 3 years ago | (#32802390)

Exactly, it isn't sexy and down the road will dwindle. Just curious, how many smart phones run Symbian?

Re:Hmmm... (1)

Minwee (522556) | more than 3 years ago | (#32802500)

So the phone OS with the biggest worldwide marketshare (and by quite a margin) is a "goner"? Because you said so?

Well, technically Nokia says so [linuxinsider.com], but what would they know about phones?

Um, no... (1)

IANAAC (692242) | more than 3 years ago | (#32802752)

Well, technically Nokia says so, but what would they know about phones?

Um, no.

Someone from In-Stat and someone else from the 451 Group said that, not Nokia.

Go back and really read the article you referenced.

Re:Hmmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32802824)

Really? They say "We will use Symbian in all but one of our lines, the ones where we sell ~75% of our smartphones", and you see that as "Symbian is dead"? Really?

Imagine Apple said, "We won't use iOS on new versions of the iPad, but we'll keep developing it for the iPhone and iPod. iPads will use the full OS X." Would that mean iOS is dead too?

Re:Hmmm... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32801996)

Tiny arse screens really sounds like a dead-end display tech.

The real reason nobody talks about Symbian.. (5, Funny)

multipartmixed (163409) | more than 3 years ago | (#32801874)

...is they keep forgetting if it's Symbian or Sybian that's "work safe"

Re:The real reason nobody talks about Symbian.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32801972)

Symbian is:
  dominating frameworks,
  lots of weird stringtypes,
  constant cleanup colon.. sorry stack ****ing.

Too bad Apple has so tightly controlled the apps.. (-1, Offtopic)

SwedishChef (69313) | more than 3 years ago | (#32801876)

Which has resulted in the "jailbreak" phenomenon that gives some of us the tools we really do need. Like ssh, tethering, etc. Plus gives some users the ability to really personalize their devices. I have an iPhone and I'm seriously considering moving to Android just because the jailbreaking I needed to get tethering and ssh (so I can remotely administer routers and servers) also results in making upgrades to the iPhone OS problematic.

Re:Too bad Apple has so tightly controlled the app (3, Informative)

multipartmixed (163409) | more than 3 years ago | (#32801944)

Minor nit -- it's not that you need a different phone to get tethering, you need a better carrier.

My Rogers iPhone works just fine for tethering. All I have to do is turn Internet Tethering on in the preferences, then plug it into the sync cable. Leopard pops up a dialog box which says something like "Hey! New Ethernet Interface found; would you like to use it?" -- click Ok, disable any other active network interface (or tweak your routing table) and bam: you're surfing on 3G.

I don't know how to do it in Windows, but it can't be much harder.

Re:Too bad Apple has so tightly controlled the app (1)

levell (538346) | more than 3 years ago | (#32802166)

My Rogers iPhone works just fine for tethering. All I have to do is turn Internet Tethering on in the preferences, then plug it into the sync cable. Leopard pops up a dialog box which says something like "Hey! New Ethernet Interface found; would you like to use it?" -- click Ok, disable any other active network interface (or tweak your routing table) and bam: you're surfing on 3G.

Hmm... you made that sound fairly complicated. A cable? This is the 21st century! With my phone (an N900 but it works with many other phones including Symbian ones), I enable the internet sharing via a little app on my phone (Joikuspot) and then my laptop sees a new wireless access point.

Re:Too bad Apple has so tightly controlled the app (1)

raju1kabir (251972) | more than 3 years ago | (#32802434)

Yeah, I do that on my Nokia E61i. It sucks the battery down to nothing in well under an hour. In order to really be useful, I still need a cable - the one going from the phone to the charger plugged into the wall.

Overall, the USB cable approach is a whole lot more flexible - works on buses, in taxis, all those places where I may need to get online for a while but don't have AC power.

Re:Too bad Apple has so tightly controlled the app (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32802666)

Ever heard of Bluetooth? It's specifically designed for this purpose (among others) in mind. And on non-operator-crippled phones, the Bluetooth tethering for packet data is basically always there unless the phone is an absolutely low-end device. No need to spend hundreds and hundreds of euros in unsubsidized price to get this feature that has been there for at least half a decade.

Re:Too bad Apple has so tightly controlled the app (1)

raju1kabir (251972) | more than 3 years ago | (#32802704)

Ever heard of Bluetooth?

Still wears down both my phone's and my laptop's battery much faster than using the USB cable. It takes me about 5 seconds to find and connect the cable, and if I'm using the laptop, it's not like I'm running around anyway, so it's not particularly an inconvenience. Plus it was a whole lot easier to get Linux to work with the cable (worked immediately) than with Bluetooth (required installing additional packages and other puttery).

Re:Too bad Apple has so tightly controlled the app (1)

Reapman (740286) | more than 3 years ago | (#32802810)

Well.. I'm on the same network as the GP (ok FIdo, but it's essentially Rogers for this discussion) and I use the bluetooth wireless option as well.. no cable required, can leave the phone in my pocket in fact when i fire my laptop up at a cafe. It's not a WAP (jailbreak apps do exist for that) but the iPhone is capable. The cable would probably result in a bit faster connection compared to BT.

with that said i can't wait to drop the iPhone 3G for a decent Android in a year or so...

Re:Too bad Apple has so tightly controlled the app (1)

Pentium100 (1240090) | more than 3 years ago | (#32802708)

With my my current (Nokia N93) and previous (Nokia 6310i) phones I did not even have to get permission from the carrier (I bought the phones separately, whithout contract). I just connect the phone to my laptop using Bluetooth and set up the dial-up connection (some bluetooth software manages that as well, but with standard Windows BT stack I needed to set it up manually).

If I can connect to the internet from my phone, then I can also do it from my laptop using the phone as a modem. If the connection is intended for web surfing on the phone then it may have a lot of ports blocked but otherwise the connection can be usable, since port 80 is still open.

Re:Too bad Apple has so tightly controlled the app (1)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 3 years ago | (#32802376)

Um, you can run an SSH client just fine. There are several in the app store. I have a free one that does the job just fine. And I have used it to remote in and fix servers before. While I say it is not ideal because of the form factor, it is indeed better than nothing. What you can't do is run an SSH server on your phone without jailbreaking. Which, personally, my reaction is "why do you need to SSH into your phone?" Really.

It isn't ignored (5, Insightful)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | more than 3 years ago | (#32801880)

It is actively despised.

Re:It isn't ignored (1)

Balial (39889) | more than 3 years ago | (#32802134)

This.

The first Symbian product shipped under than name in 2001 (according to wikipedia). Blackberry shipped in 2002 (also wikipedia) and was destroying it ever since. Every single Symbian phone was garbage to use. Android and iPhone have only helped push it down further towards its rightful place.

Re:It isn't ignored (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32802734)

I had an "opportunity" to try out a high-end Blackberry for couple weeks half an year ago or so. Call me European, or even Finnish, but I were immensely disappointed in contrast to expectations I had. I'd switch back to Nokia E90 or even E70 any day in if I had that device in use. But then again, I have something that serves me even better than my preceding phones: N900.

I have really failed to spot the excellence of Blackberry, apart from their mobile mail solution, which of course is an established player and keeps them alive. Otherwise, I'd expect them to be six feet under.

Re:It isn't ignored (1)

zaivala (887815) | more than 3 years ago | (#32802406)

"Actively despised" seems more to fit Windows Mobile. On my phone, I can only synch anything if I have access to a commercial server with Outlook -- won't even think about using Outlook on my PC. I'd love to load Symbian (or just about anything else) onto my Pantech Matrix C820.

Especially by developers... (1)

Ecuador (740021) | more than 3 years ago | (#32802778)

The company I work for develops for many platforms and it was trying to have a line of Symbian apps as well. The effort required for porting from one OS version to the next was usualy not insignificant (ridiculous - most other OS's are more or less backwards compatible) and especially the jump from 8 to 9.x was so big that the boss just decided to give up on the platform (the non-existent app store or distribution system plus the fact we would have to keep working on separate versions to support pre-OS 9.x users were among the factors considered).

Bad memories (1)

goto begin (1338561) | more than 3 years ago | (#32801886)

Most people I know remember Symbian as an uncomfortable, clumsy OS before real smartphones even existed. Personally, I wouldn't use it since I'm biased away from it for this exact reason.

iPhone (and Android) have both kinds (4, Interesting)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 3 years ago | (#32801910)

If you look around, you can ALSO find the same groups of people doing consulting work for companies around iPhone and Android development. Yes it's true that both platforms also have the hobby developers, but that's only a small part of the overall market.

In fact if you think about it you could argue the iPhone had a leg up on said base of serious developers, because there was already a reasonably large base of professional Mac developers around before the iPhone - I would argue probably more than there were ever dedicated Symbian developers.

The problem Symbian had is the same problem WinCE and the same problem Android WOULD have had if, being Java based, they had just tried to bring J2ME forward a bit more into the smartphone realm. Both Android and iPhoneOS are designed from the ground up to be fully featured operating systems, without a ton of compromises and pretty old design philosophies baked into other existing mobile platforms. Yes there are a ton of Symbian devices around, but does that matter when you know you can sell an order of magnitude more software developing for the iPhone or Android?

It's only a matter of time before corporate use of these two platforms totally eclipses Symbian development in the enterprise, if it's not already happened.

 

Re:iPhone (and Android) have both kinds (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32802336)

It's only a matter of time before corporate use of these two platforms totally eclipses Symbian development in the enterprise, if it's not already happened.

Ehem, Blackberry?

Symbian was the OS when no one knew a mobile phone could do more than just make calls.
Then they'd upgrade to WinMo/Palm/Blackberry.

Then WinMo tanked, which left Blackberry [wikimedia.org] as the dominant smartphone OS. (no, I don't count Symbian as a smartphone OS)

Despite all the press iPhone/Droid get, BB still leads.

Symbian is dead (1)

faragon (789704) | more than 3 years ago | (#32801998)

Past benefits doesn't guarantee future income. In my opinion it makes no sense unless for "dumb devices".

Nokia, what happened to you? (1, Offtopic)

msgmonkey (599753) | more than 3 years ago | (#32802026)

My last two Nokia phones have been an absolute disaster, the first a 6600 fold locks up if you press the 6 key, thats right you can't use the 6 key. It's a common fault and and seems like one of those bugs that is so bizzare that nokia have n't been able to fix it because it does n't affect every phone. I then made the mistake of getting a N97 Mini and I can honestly say it will be my last Nokia phone, the CPU is so under powered its like a sick joke and the phone interface is terrible.

There was a time when you knew getting a Nokia meant a quality phone, I'm sorry to say that is n't the case anymore.

Re:Nokia, what happened to you? (1)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 3 years ago | (#32802324)

msgmonkey at the pub: "Hey, why don't you give me your number, I'd like to give you a call sometime."
hot chick at the pub: "Sure, I'd love to get together and do something."
msgmonkey: "Cool, let me put you in my mobile. I just really, really hope you're number doesn't contain the digit 6."

Re:Nokia, what happened to you? (1)

horza (87255) | more than 3 years ago | (#32802618)

I have to say that I'm very happy with my E71. Full keyboard, nice screen, and Symbian so I can run whatever software I want. Opera Mini really improves it. Camera is not great, but has full GPS. Much slimmer than the Blackberry.

I've read that in Android Google can remotely install and remove apps at will, so that goes on my blacklist along with the iPhone. Hopefully HTC can port their Sense interface directly onto Linux. Now THAT is a phone I would buy.

Phillip.

All the more for me (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32802044)

As far as I'm concerned, all the better, with a ridiculous number of Symbian phones already deployed in corporate environments people like me can move in and develop tailored apps for existing infrastructure and make very decent money doing it whilst others go along with the fads, spend twice as much effort and earn less than half what I'm making, all the while being controlled by abnormally restrictive policies imposed by the hardware vendor. Mind you, Symbian is a bitch to work with but frankly when compare the effort and reward it really is easy pickings.

Still waiting for an open-source release... (1)

hackel (10452) | more than 3 years ago | (#32802106)

I've got a Symbian S60 device myself, an aging Nokia N73... I can't wait to switch to a more modern Linux-based operating system. Even Nokia has dumped it on their N-series devices! I tried writing some PyS60 apps for mine, but it was just too slow and underpowered. I can't have more than one app open at a time because it has so little memory...but it did do a lot with a little.

Re:Still waiting for an open-source release... (1)

gavinchappell (784065) | more than 3 years ago | (#32802622)

Just dumped my N78 for an Android device (the Desire). Best thing I did, the N78 was buggy (couldn't even use it as an alarm clock properly, there was a bug which meant if the alarm went off while the phone was turned off, later on that day at a random point the date would jump forward by 6 days), slow, and had very few supported apps as it wasn't a sexy touch screen device. The alarm clock thing was reproducible on every single one of the 4 stock Nokia firmwares I put onto it, everyone complained about it, and it still wasn't fixed. Really spoilt my opinion of Nokia as the last couple of Nokias I had were the old 8200 and 8300 which were basic but rock-solid....

Re:Still waiting for an open-source release... (1)

Pentium100 (1240090) | more than 3 years ago | (#32802812)

It has so little memory because it was released, what, 3 years ago? My N93 is not much better, having ~20MB of free RAM after boot, but they probably could not fit more memory to it without making it too expensive. Still, I can use Google Maps, Garmin Mobile XT (with external bluetooth GPS receiver) and Opera Mobile 10.00 though not at the same time and Opera sometimes runs out of memory, especially on large sites.

But the phone is easy to use, has a large keypad and no touch screen (I read somewhere that most of the touch screen cell phones do not work with a stylus, only with a finger, and I do not want the screen to get dirty I also do not want to wash my hands every time I want to use the phone).

The phone is enough for me. If I needed to use other apps on a small device, I would probably get an Atom based netbook, like the Fujitsu U810 or U820. Much bigger (and higher resolution) screen, keyboard and x86.

It's a pain in the ass to develop for (4, Informative)

Yuioup (452151) | more than 3 years ago | (#32802122)

The reason why it's ignored is because it's a pain in the ass to develop for. The options that you have is as follows:

* Download a very heavy C++ ide which was, till recently, locked down. You had to get a "professional" license if you wanted to do something useful. There is the "express" version but it was deliberately crippled. Oh yeah it only runs on Windows.

* If you wanted to distribute your app you had to get it signed. Ok sure yeah that sounds easy enough, but I can't tell you how often I get the "this app is untrusted" message.

* If you're a developer like me who is uncomfortable using a low level language you can go the Java route. Yeah. Write once, debug everywhere. It's a mess. I can't even get my midlet to get the IMEI code of the phone so I can use it for authentication.

* A beautiful middle ground is Python for S60. I tried to install it recently on my Nokia N73. A huge bag of fail.

* Yeah sure Symbian is open source. I want to download the source, build it and run it. Have you read the instructions to get it up and running under Linux? Let's just say that it goes way over my head. I heard on a podcast that Nokia uses some kind of circuit board made by Texas Instruments. Ok, so I need to go get some specialized device just to run the kernel? Please.

* Ooh ooh. There's also Qt Creator. Cool. Tried to install the demos. Didn't work.

* JavaFx. ... *sound of crickets*

So basically the choices you have as a developer are too many and every choice leads to a dead end.
It's really frustrating. That's why my next phone is the HTC desire. I can download and run the development environment on Linux. I can also be sure that my users will be able to run it without jumping through hoops. Trying to support an app running in Symbian is a nightmare.

Y

Re:It's a pain in the ass to develop for (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32802216)

Maybe you're just not that good...
Just sayin, they aren't dead ends for everyone.

Re:It's a pain in the ass to develop for (1, Insightful)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 3 years ago | (#32802218)

If you're a developer like me who is uncomfortable using a low level language...

*sigh* Kids these days. This statement makes me a sad panda...

Re:It's a pain in the ass to develop for (1)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | more than 3 years ago | (#32802240)

Yeah, that's a real killer. Samsungs Bada is the same - dev environment is Windows only. As soon as I saw that I knew it was dead in the water. I know a lot of really great, passionate software developers. The sort who obsess over the details of their software and make great things. None of them use Windows as their primary OS.

Re:It's a pain in the ass to develop for (2, Interesting)

stanlyb (1839382) | more than 3 years ago | (#32802380)

I am developer too, and in a matter of day, i succeeded to make a virtual machine, with all the C++ IDE, QT IDE, whatever IDE installed and configured, and to actually create the famous "HELLO WORLD" application, out of the box. As simple as that. And my current phone is Nokia too, and it is under Symbian, and it has OVI MAPS, which is FREE, i repeat, FREE, and it has Ovi Store with a tons of free applications and tones and wallpapers, and much much more. Oh, one last thing, my phone actually works, as is supposed to work every single decent phone, without having the funny ANTENNA problem, like some other funny "smart"-phones do.

Re:It's a pain in the ass to develop for (1)

arf_barf (639612) | more than 3 years ago | (#32802384)

Same experience here. Developing in Symbian C++ is very slow and tedious. It is almost as bad as developing for AVR with AVRStudio.

They also fumbled big time when it some to Python.I created a few apps with it but unfortunately the runtime has too many crashing bugs and it looks like they are not interested in fixing those.

Re:It's a pain in the ass to develop for (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32802564)

It is almost as bad as developing for AVR with AVRStudio.

Such as? I haven't encountered any big issues and I don't consider myself an expert by any measure.

Symbian has been committing hara-kiri for ages (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32802212)

I used to work for Symbian a few years back. The company has comprehensively screwed every big decision it has taken. In no particular order, these were:

- Treating the app developer as some annoyance to be fobbed off whenever possible. No idea what's it's like now, but back in the day, to develop an app for Symbian you have to splash out on a compiler which retailed at over $2k. And if god forbid you wanted to actually debug code running on your device (rather than the not particularly good emulator), well, then you need a HW debugger box which ran to another $2k

- Completely and comprehensively fragmenting the eco-system whenever the slightest opportunity to do so arose. Hence Symbian never really existed as a platform per se - it was all an obscure and vast ecosytem of devices each with its own configuration - hence the prolliferation of Series 40, 60, 70, UIQ etc etc.

- As an operating system, Symbian was passable, although it was written way before it's time. Hence it assumed the C++ compiler didn't know about exception handling and did everyting possible to conserve every last resource of the device at the expense of making developing for it an activity which took quite a long time to acquire a taste for.

- Quite a few bits of Symbian got taken over by the detritus that got ejected from Ericsson and Lucent when they collapsed. Hence you had all these big company people introducing processes used to launch space shuttles into space - exactly what you don't need if you're trying to innovate in one of the most rapidly changing industries.

Or at least that's my 2c.

Re:Symbian has been committing hara-kiri for ages (1)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | more than 3 years ago | (#32802442)

This report [techcrunch.com] does seem to agree with you. In particular I note things like this:

- In terms of debugging, ourbenchmarking shows that Android has the fastest debugging process, compared with iPhone, Symbian and Java ME. Debugging in Symbian takes up more than twice the time it takes on Android.

This isn't surprising. I am naturally a C++ developer - though I move between languages frequently, currently, I get paid to write mostly in C++. I've also done some J2ME in the past. So when I heard that Android was Java based, I was very skeptical. How could it compete with an interpreter for a language so bloated that simply representing the constant string "Hello World" took many multiples of the storage space C++ did. Then I sat down and wrote an Android app.

It's really easy to forget how much more productive a managed environment makes you, if you don't use one for a while. No memory corruptions. No leaks. The debugger always works. You can put together a simple crash reporter in 10 lines of code. Sure, the APIs can be a bit over-engineered, and Eclipse is a pig, but it still beats the crap out of C++ and a text editor.

Not to mention that many people don't even know C++ these days.

Re:Symbian has been committing hara-kiri for ages (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32802738)

You claim:

I used to work for Symbian a few years back.

Did you? Are you really sure you're telling the truth? The reason why I am asking is because you then complain about

the prolliferation of Series 40, 60, 70, UIQ

Any serious Symbian developer would know that S40 isn't based on Symbian. S40 is a proprietary operating from Nokia for ultra-low-cost phones and it doesn't have anything to do with Symbian at all.

So either you didn't actually work for Symbian as you claim or you were a very ignorant developer.

Nokia 5800 (2, Interesting)

Kenshin (43036) | more than 3 years ago | (#32802232)

I recently picked-up a Nokia 5800 because it was a good price, I didn't need to get locked into a long contract (this is Canada), and I got an unusually cheap unlimited mobile data plan for it. (Money's tight.)

As a smart phone, yes, it's laughable how few apps are available for it, and I still have iPhone/Android envy... but it does the job well enough for me without breaking the bank.

Personally...N97 ended my relationship with Nokia (1)

Skuld-Chan (302449) | more than 3 years ago | (#32802234)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJpEuMidcSU [youtube.com] - is about as true as it gets. As someone who had the various n95 models reading about the n97 sounded like a dream come true - so I bought it the day it came out :/. Yes it can do everything the iPhone can do - or even Android (it even has features that Android doesn't have - like copying files over bluetooth) but they are all unusable or extremely clunky.

It had a webkit based browser, flashlite etc etc (so a good chunk of websites looked ok on it) - but was slow as hell (you often had to wait for the thing to download the entire site, and render it before even navigating around), had memory issues (128 megs o ram...) and loads of other issues documented in the video. When Ovi Maps came out for free on the device I couldn't even install it without clearing up space because it would only install to c:\ (yes for those who don't know - Symbian has dos style drive names) and not to the 32 gig partition it boasts (which asides from apps you download yourself only gets used for Music and pictures).

Nokia would have to give me a new phone before I'd own another - and that says a lot for someone who has a box under my bed full of these things.

Now days I use a Nexus One and it is literally 2-3 generations down the line from the BEST Nokia has to offer - the browser is also just as fast as the one on my PC's destkop. The only thing bad about it - it has a bit worse battery life than the N97, but that is honestly getting better with Froyo.

Re:Personally...N97 ended my relationship with Nok (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32802408)

Android has an app for BT file transfer, appropriately named "Bluetooth File Transfer", if I recall. =P

Re:Personally...N97 ended my relationship with Nok (1)

stanlyb (1839382) | more than 3 years ago | (#32802444)

Comparing Apple with Pear....no pun intended, lol. Anyway, i also have OVI maps installed (on C:|), with all the maps downloaded on my 8GB microSD, and everything works pretty good and pretty fast. Oh, and i even have google maps, and 2-3 more maps/location related applications, and they work pretty damn good...

I get no respect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32802320)

Symbian is the Rodney Dangerfield of the mobile OS world?

It is all relative... (0)

jythie (914043) | more than 3 years ago | (#32802368)

Symbian is the example of why I raise an eyebrow at people talking about how 'evil' Apple is because iPhones are locked down or have a restricted app store. Compared to desktops, sure, they are restrictive. Compared to cell phones before it? Amazingly open.

I can recall working on cell phone app kiosk a number of years back. The number of apps that the system carried could probably be measured in dozens or hundreds, and they required specialized developments that were in a single language with a single development environment... and do not even think about putting interpreters on there. It was more like developing for a console then anything else.

Re:It is all relative... (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#32802574)

Symbian is the example of why I raise an eyebrow at people talking about how 'evil' Apple is because iPhones are locked down or have a restricted app store. Compared to desktops, sure, they are restrictive. Compared to cell phones before it? Amazingly open.

Symbian still doesn't (nor didn't) restrict users from installing third-party apps. And, of course, the "cell phones before it" weren't just Symbian - WinMo was also a very big player, and there was also PalmOS, all more open than iOS.

Hobbyist? (0)

zolcos (1839602) | more than 3 years ago | (#32802382)

iPhone has really been successful at attracting just the hobbyist, or the one- or two-person company, or the person who just wants to go onto the web and start developing.'

This is despite the platform, not because of it. Of course, the "blingiest" offering will attract developers looking for a wide audience with money to blow. However, the iPhone isn't inherently more welcoming to small players -- one must buy Apple's blessing for the privelege of actually getting their own work on the device. (Legal) distribution is strictly controlled by Apple, allowing them to forcibly skim your profits. Doesn't sound all that indie-friendly. Symbian's main hurdle in being appreciated in itself is Nokia often using it on woefully under-powered hardware. The supposed hurdle in attracting developers is simply a matter of audience, in my opinion. Yes, platforms with centralized "app stores" are easier to commercialize, but those are targeted at users who enjoy their phone being a fun friendly device that eats their money as they use it. Such users, when faced with the choice of phone to buy, will get the more blingy phone in the first place. Symbian phones are an obvious plainer option, so is anyone who gets them really expecting a walled garden of $5 fart apps and Quake ports? Simply put, I own a late-model N95 and I've found free apps that do everything I need it to do. If I wanted entertainment from a phone I would have bought something more flashy.

Symbian isn't talked about? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32802410)

Much like the opposite. It has been a running joke for past 5 years.

I'm serious. It's so filled with design errors, fragmentation in places where there shouldn't be any, buggy code, plain bloat and slowness, and other stupidities that I'm not sure if it's not funny or so not funny that it's funny again.

And none of that shit even comes close to the real original brain damage: Some dumb fucking ass thought that trap harnesses, leaves and other nonstandard madness would actually produce more reliable code than old school return -1; that everyone else was using.

So was BREW (2, Insightful)

NicknamesAreStupid (1040118) | more than 3 years ago | (#32802424)

and Java ME. Just try to get an app certified, you may begin to appreciate iPhone or Android. BTW, phone companies want 70%, not 30%.

Jokia (1)

jjohnson (62583) | more than 3 years ago | (#32802508)

I'm working on an independently funded project right now with a marketing exec, a UI guy, and a flash dev from Nokia. They're all good, smart people; they all refer to Nokia as "Jokia". The exec is running the project, and is continually astounded that the money she pays us consultants 1) actually gets her something, and 2) is paid out after delivering something on time.

Put Nokia in the same bin as Dell, where years of focus on cost-management has destroyed an innovative company that once led the market.

Sad state (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32802560)

http://www.osnews.com/story/23522/Symbian-Guru_Closing_Down

A mass-market future, but not an android killer (1)

majohns (1849094) | more than 3 years ago | (#32802672)

My understanding is that the S60 flavour, which was the one most people were getting excited about in the old days (pre-iphone, and def pre-android) is pretty much dead in the water going forward. Instead, Symbian's future lies in stripping back features - it's S40 that's going to hit the big time as a very simple, very cheap OS in the millions upon millions of phones that are being shipped into developing countries.
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