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The Future of Symbian

Hemos posted more than 9 years ago | from the where-do-we-go-now dept.

Handhelds 59

S3D writes "On 18 May 2004, Symbian, owner of the OS for high-end smartphones announced the formal launch of the Symbian Signed initiative for digitally signing and certifying Symbian applications that meet a set of test criteria. Gartner believes that Symbian Signed, in its current form, is a weak certification program oriented largely toward the needs of application publishers and network operators and may be inconvinient for developers. "

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fp! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9236215)


I didn't know that..... (-1, Troll)

i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) | more than 9 years ago | (#9236220)

this thing used an OS... [sybian.com] What? I forgot the "M"? How about a big O?

Time for a name change (1)

bhmit1 (2270) | more than 9 years ago | (#9236546)

Insert any popular sybian vibrator joke here
Of all the companies that change their name for all the wrong reasons, this is one of those times where it would be for good reasons. Unless you want to be known as the company with a name similar to a high end vibrator. Or perhaps they could add a smart phone attachment to the sybian?

Re:I didn't know that..... (0, Troll)

Improv (2467) | more than 9 years ago | (#9236932)

Like everyone else, I also immediately thought of the vibrator. Oy. Geek minds think alike.

i see (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9236221)

dick tracy video phone watches!

Whigs (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9236223)

The Whigs were a political party.

Warning, parent is a troll.... (1, Informative)

dealsites (746817) | more than 9 years ago | (#9236238)

Link is slightly mispelled. Not quite safe for work. Pretty good try though.

New deal processing engine online: http://www.dealsites.net/livedeals.html [dealsites.net]

Attn. Moderator: YHBT (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 9 years ago | (#9236876)

Or does the asshole who moderated this "informative" really think the article meant Sybian, instead of Symbian? Jeez, how much effort is it to sweep your cursor over the links before moderating? Well, to be fair to the poster, maybe the parent of this didn't intend to be a troll at all, just replied to the main story, instead of to a post above, but this doesn't change the fact that the moderator is an asshole.

You'd think... (4, Insightful)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 9 years ago | (#9236240)

and may be inconvinient for developers.

...that they might have said the same thing about all the mandatory copy protection systems in place (or proposed) on devices. Like console systems. Or Palladium.

Re:You'd think... (1)

akintayo (17599) | more than 9 years ago | (#9236301)

Yeah, but the purpose of that scheme is to restrict applications. And as a result there isn't that much variety of applications on most game consoles.

I would think the phone manufacturers are trying for a more varied application base. They also have to worry about the lack of any killer apps, and lots of competing platforms. Limiting the applications that are available for the platform seems counterproductive.

Seem Familiar? (5, Insightful)

lachlan76 (770870) | more than 9 years ago | (#9236251)

I think that I have heard this before...let me think...I'll get it...Microsoft Driver Signing. The point of that was to scare new users into buying alternate forms of hardware which have been produced by a manufacturer paid by Microsoft. While this isn't quite the same, it is restrictive to independant developers.

+5 Microsoft Basher (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9236356)

Even in a completely non-Microsoft story, you sheep find ways to continue your mindless and predictable MS bashing. Where I come from we have a word for it and it is called pathetic karma whores patting each other on the back and sitting around saying "hrrrrmmph".

Re:Seem Familiar? (1)

SilentChris (452960) | more than 9 years ago | (#9238242)

"point of that was to scare new users into buying alternate forms of hardware which have been produced by a manufacturer paid by Microsoft."

Actually, the point was to make sure hardware manufacturers (probably the weakest link Microsoft has to rely on) kept with the standards they set.

Of all the crashes I've had in Windows 2000 and XP, 9 out of 10 have been driver related. 1 of those 9 are signed drivers, but the vast majority are unsigned drivers that I install (and ignore the warnings for).

Think about it: if you're Microsoft, *everything* that happens wrong on most PCs is presumably your fault. If they don't help hardware manufacturers along, they get blamed anyway. There's no question in my mind that signed drivers lead to stable computers.

Re:Seem Familiar? (2, Interesting)

bit01 (644603) | more than 9 years ago | (#9242123)

There's no question in my mind that signed drivers lead to stable computers.

Depends on your point of view. If it doesn't run the piece of software/hardware you want at all (due to the signing not working because it is not in the M$ monopoly financial interest) that sounds 100% unstable to me.

The correct solution is for the M$ OS to popup a meaningful error message pointing the finger at the appropriate broken driver and manufacturer. Since most failures are access violations this would work a charm. It is the fault of M$ that they want to make other company's branding invisible and plaster their own brand everywhere. They want to claim responsibility for the good in other company products but not the bad. That is hypocritical.

Re:Seem Familiar? (1)

SilentChris (452960) | more than 9 years ago | (#9243001)

"The correct solution is for the M$ OS to popup a meaningful error message pointing the finger at the appropriate broken driver and manufacturer."

You're joking, right? Currently you get a full hex dump and often the exact name of the driver file causing the problem. The fact that the system doesn't have time to intercept an errant hardware call and pop-up a web address of the manufacturer certainly shouldn't be held against it.

Look at Mac OS X. If the system crashes, all you get is a single graphic in 5 different languages telling you to reboot. Absolutely no troubleshooting information whatsoever. After the reboot, you can check out the logs (if you know where to look), but Mac users have to painstakingly hunt down which piece of hardware has gone bad. At least Windows points people in the right direction.

Honestly, dude, your views are quite outdated. I don't think you've even programmed for hardware before. If you did, you'd realize that MS (it's not M$, by the way, unless you're still in highschool) does a reasonable job. Not perfect, but certainly not as bad and evil as you make them out to be.

Better OS? (2, Funny)

OriginalChops (773524) | more than 9 years ago | (#9236265)

All I wana know is...

Does it come with a sexy computer voice?

Re:Better OS? (1)

OriginalChops (773524) | more than 9 years ago | (#9236449)

I prefer Marylin Manroe's voice... But I can see why some people might like Barry

Re:Better OS? (1)

mhesseltine (541806) | more than 9 years ago | (#9236614)

Re:Better OS? (Score:1)

by OriginalChops (773524) on Mon May 24, '04 07:07 AM (#9236449)
I prefer Marylin Manroe's voice... But I can see why some people might like Barry

Marylin Manroe? Is he a transgender Marilyn Monroe look-alike? I guess if that's what you're into...

Re:Better OS? (1)

OriginalChops (773524) | more than 9 years ago | (#9236686)

As long as it sounds like the original I dont care whos doing the voice...

Computers dont have a gender you know... Or maybe you dont, I dont know...

Re:Better OS? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9236599)

Female Options are:

Demi Moore
Rosie O'donnell(sp)
Marge Simpson
The fab 5 from Queer Eye
Majel Barret
Phylis Diller

Re:Better OS? (1)

sharkey (16670) | more than 9 years ago | (#9239163)

Yes, multiple choice:
  • Matthew Perry: "Yeah, could I BE any more of a house?"
  • Dennis Miller: "Hey, cha-cha, I got more features than a NASA relief map of Turkmenistan."
  • Pierce Brosnan: "Say, it's a bit stuffy in here ... and I know a certain someone who really fancies lilac."

Right! (5, Interesting)

CaptainZapp (182233) | more than 9 years ago | (#9236274)

The test criteria are minimal and oriented toward application installation, interaction with network features such as billing, and ensuring that the application does not disrupt major phone features such as call handling. No meaningful tests exist to ensure usability, quality, effective documentation, conformance with interface expectations, correct operation in the absence of expected network features or correct operation on all hardware variants of the complex and fragmented Symbian platform.

Well, we are talking of an OS for cell phones, right? Wouldn't it be the major goal of such a certification process indeed be about being compatible with the network and with phone features?

Symbian doesn't specifiy a user interface. Nokia developed Systems 60/90 as user interfaces. Sony Ericsson provides again something different. Other manufacturers sublicense the interface (Siemens)

Again and very slowly: Certifying a cell phone (platform) is precisely about the systems interaction with the network. Not about "usability" (whatever that is).

Not all certification is carried out independently.

Ah, you mean like some analysts don't seem to act independently, but sometimes leave the reader with the distinct fealing that they are whores in the pay of a uhhh! major software company trying frantically to get a foothold into the booming cellphone business?

Dudes, this is not about "Windows Certified". I suggest that you use more of your time cluing yourself in, instead of constantly wasting your time in rebooting your Microsoft Powered "Smart"-Phones.

Re:Right! (1)

stewart.hector (87816) | more than 9 years ago | (#9237985)

Symbian does specify GUIs. UIQ came from Symbian... its Quartz User Interface and was specified years ago... at the time of Symbian OS 6. (When I still had my Psion 5 before it drowned.. :- ( )

Series 60 is Nokia.. yep.

This UI thing is a pain.. its fragmenting Symbian - I want to be able to run Nokia Series 60 software or UIQ on whatever Symbian phone I have.

The sooner the various Symbian UI compatible the better.

Re:Right! (1)

CaptainZapp (182233) | more than 9 years ago | (#9238900)

Not that I disagree. I would be nice to have fully interchangeable software on any Symbian phone.

Nevertheless, this "analysis" is just braindead and looks bought by the boys from Redmond.

Longer prosthetics, more powerful buzzing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9236288)

Not a troll, I honestly want to know!

Symbian? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9236311)

Of course slashdot would never post this, but Pocket PC has pulled ahead of Palm [pocketpcthoughts.com], and Symbian... Symbian?? That is not even a player since 1998.

Sorry folks, it's a Pocket PC future for you ;)

Re:Symbian? (4, Informative)

WegianWarrior (649800) | more than 9 years ago | (#9236352)

Not a player? Sorry mate - but as far as I'm concerned the Psion5 I got is still the best thing when it comes to putting in large amounths of texts on the road (it runs EPOC - the forerunner to symbian) - while I can't ask for more in a PDA than my Palm m130 delivers.

Just because MicroSoft claims to be about the same size as Palm on the OS side of things, it don't mean that there wont be people like me who'll either stick to the old devices or are willing to pay for getting new devices with the same OS on them... It's also worth noting that your source seems awfully biased ;)

Re:Symbian? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9236379)

Yeah, you keep on using your "alternative" OS.. and your OS/2 Warp running on your IBM PC-jr. The rest of the world will be moving on, but there is always room for you sad little hangers-on.

Re:Symbian? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9238032)

Symbian is the leading Smartphone OS... like it or not. You just need to look at the sales figures... (google: symbian sales). I think you'll find the sales of Symbian based phones are way ahead of Palm or MS Stinker (or whatever its called now).

Symbian is written specifally for smartphones and therefore doesn't kill the battery life too much, and doesn't require a 3/400 Mhz processor to run software.

The P900 runs on a 160Mhz processor AND can do everything a MS sor Palm handheld can do... play video, music, games, emulators etc etc and with a good range of software - games and business applications.

Re:Symbian? (2, Insightful)

twalk (551836) | more than 9 years ago | (#9240830)

In the US, PalmOS is the leading Smartphone OS. Sales of the Treo600 have been so huge that they are beating Symbian and MS Smartphone combined, and so huge that Palm can't produce them fast enough to meet demand. (The Treo600 is practically non-existant in Europe.)

Re:Symbian? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9241759)

Fortunately, the US is not the entire world.

You Yanks haven't a clue on good products... or presidents!

G.Bush == terrorist

Re: The future of symbiam (2, Insightful)

manavendra (688020) | more than 9 years ago | (#9236320)

It might well be a weak certification program, but in the past developers have worked with some real crap and more often than not, debug entire libraries themselves and/or report to OEM vendors, etc.

So long as the owners of IP (and code), listen to developers and have a large enough pool of people to respond within reasonable times, the developer community over the world will embrace it AND provide it's feedback and suggestions

For people wondering about freeware developers (5, Informative)

matthew.thompson (44814) | more than 9 years ago | (#9236322)

From https://www.symbiansigned.com/Symbian_Signed_White _Paper.pdf

"5.4. Freeware developers and the development process

Symbian Signed recognises the innovation and value of the Freeware developer community and will introduce a Peer Review process which shall enable high quality Freeware applications which successfully pass the review process. Symbian Signed shall introduce this process during H2 2004.

Certification is the means by which such software makes the transition from the developer community to the commercial world. However, there needs to be a means for developers to run applications without signing, both as part of the development process and to permit those with the technical skill to share ideas (e.g. developer groups at universities).

Under normal circumstances this is not a problem as all phones allow installation of unsigned applications (usually with a warning). It is possible, however, in the future that some operators may require that only signed applications can be installed on phones supplied to their networks. In this case, the operators and phone makers will need to take steps to support the developer community.

Generally this is achieved by providing "unlocked phones". Alternatively, there are opportunities in principle to integrate capabilities into the development tools (IDEs) that allow developers to install unsigned applications directly from the development tools. The choice of the most appropriate mechanism is an issue for the operators/phone makers.

This will allow the developer community to develop applications even on phones that may normally restrict the installation of unsigned apps."

False safety (3, Insightful)

Willeh (768540) | more than 9 years ago | (#9236334)

I believe this will create a lot of resentment towards Symbian in the long run. The testing basically only gives you a guarantee that it will not run up your phonebill and or delete your range of oh-so cool ringtones/ sounds/ wallpapers/ whatevers. As the Gartner article points out, no work is being done to ensure usability, or even if the product is useful.

It probably also means the developers get the green light to put huge "SYMBIAN APPROVED!!!!1" stickers on their products, which will be misleading to Joe Average PDA/CELL user. This in turn creates alot of resentment when the advertised product doesn't live up to the hype (that symbian indirectly helped create via the sticker), they will feel burned on the product and ultimately on Symbian products.

Hell, even MS certified drivers have snuck by that made stuff break.

Re:False safety (2, Interesting)

Troed (102527) | more than 9 years ago | (#9238996)

I believe this will create a lot of resentment towards Symbian in the long run. The testing basically only gives you a guarantee that it will not run up your phonebill and or delete your range of oh-so cool ringtones/ sounds/ wallpapers/ whatevers. ... and that's exactly what it SHOULD do, and nothing else. Don't you understand what this certification is for?

It's the CELL OPERATORS that demand it - they don't want EVIL software running rampant in their networks. They're scared shitless as it is today with anyone being able to write applications that can access (quite) low level stuff on cellphones.

Have a look at the requirements for signed MIDlets (that's J2ME) and compare it with Symbian ...

Yes I work in the cellphone industry, on handsets, with Symbian and J2ME.

marketing play (0)

millahtime (710421) | more than 9 years ago | (#9236350)

This looks like a marketing ploy. Where the /. community many not like this, the average user would probubally have more trust in a signed application. And if those applications get preferential treatment, marketing and the rest then if your pushing a product it's a way to go.

The average joe 6 pack would be more likely to trust a signed application than one with a warning.

Questions (3, Interesting)

StripedCow (776465) | more than 9 years ago | (#9236373)

Couple of questions. Do they have a (free) runtime environment which runs on Linux? Can I use gcc to compile cellphone applications? If so, I am going to have a look at this stuff.

Re:Questions (3, Informative)

ColourlessGreenIdeas (711076) | more than 9 years ago | (#9236472)

'They' don't, but other people have sort-of ported the developer tools to Linux. Google for gnupoc. But the emulator is Win32 only, so you can't debug on the emulator (you can run the emulator under Wine if you want to). The standard Symbian compiler for the target is gcc. For the emulator it's Microsoft (for series 60) or CodeWarrior (for UIQ)

future of corepirate nazi payper liesense scams? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9236399)

lookout bullow. the daze of the glowbull warmongering, greed/fear/ego based felonious stock markup FraUD execrable, is dissolving into coolapps/the abyss, at the (increasing) speed of right.

all is not lost.

consult with/trust in yOUR creators.... the future's been bright, from the beginning. see you there?

Gartner attacks Microsoft's competitor, news at 11 (2, Funny)

asb (1909) | more than 9 years ago | (#9236400)

So Gartner attacks yet another technology which is a direct competitor to Microsoft's products.

What else is new?

Re:Gartner attacks Microsoft's competitor, news at (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9237983)

Hmm, you shoulda been mod'd up. Seriously, does anyone give a flying fsck about Gartner?

Misleading Title (1)

malsdavis (542216) | more than 9 years ago | (#9236510)

I think the title to this article: "The Future of Symbian" is a bit misleading, seeing just the headline I was under the impression that Symbian were at that stage (you know, the one Sun's at) where the future of the company is at stake (or maybe on a stake in Sun's case?). Anyway, doesn't really indicate that the article is regarding Symbian starting a program certification uh... program.

Certification of handheld apps has never caught on (4, Informative)

samalone (707709) | more than 9 years ago | (#9236758)

I attended a handheld software developers conference last year where many of the talks were given by Symbian and Sony/Ericsson. They were trying to recruit developers to their platform, but it quickly became clear that they had little understanding of the commercial market for handheld software.

The wireless carriers are accustomed to controlling both the handset that customers use and all of the software on that handset. Now that handsets have become smartphones, most of the carriers would like to maintain their position at the top of the customer foodchain by pre-certifying the software that can run on customer handsets and controlling the installation and sales of that software through the carrier's web portal. I don't really blame them: Revenues from voice traffic are declining, and so far revenues from data traffic aren't increasing fast enough to make up the difference.

The problem is that independent software vendors don't want to buy into this system. Developing software for handhelds is difficult -- more difficult than developing similar desktop software because of the constrained resources on a handheld. Despite this, prices for handheld software are generally lower than for desktop software because customers perceive these to be "small" applications that should have "small" prices.

Certification makes life more difficult for independent software vendors without providing much in return. It adds another expense to the software development process. It discourages frequent updates to the software (which customers generally like) by increasing the time and cost of each release.

Worse, if certification is manditory, it prevents the customer from trying the software before purchasing it, and it prevents developers from testing and refining the software with real customers before certifying it.

In my experience, these certification programs never achieve enough "brand awareness" from customers to become a factor in their purchasing decision. Companies look for and require certifications before making purchases, but individuals rarely do. So the software developer doesn't derive any benefit from the additional hassle and expense of getting certified.

It's going to come down to this: Customers who are willing to pay a premium to get a smartphone are going to want one where they can install whatever software they want, not just software "certified" by the carrier. Most software developers will try to market directly to these customers rather than dealing with the extra cost and hassle of certification.

Re:Certification of handheld apps has never caught (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 9 years ago | (#9248881)

It's going to come down to this: Customers who are willing to pay a premium to get a smartphone are going to want one where they can install whatever software they want, not just software "certified" by the carrier.
And who can blame them for that?
Most software developers will try to market directly to these customers rather than dealing with the extra cost and hassle of certification.
FUD campaign against cowboy software (something about secretly calling premiun rate numbers, or spyware, or paedophiles) from the handset manufacturers, or more likely the network operators, in 3, 2, 1 ....

Independant SW developers are nearing extinction (1)

constantlyamazed (693175) | more than 9 years ago | (#9236983)

Microsoft has been doing the same thing to their mobile platform developers for a while now. All without much success, I might add. Developers are loathe to pay to have their apps certified when most of them aren't making any money anyway.

Let's do the math. I don't know what the Symbian folks will charge, but in MS land it's $500 per certification. Each *complete* app needs to be certified, so if you support multiple languages, each is a separate certification.

So that's $500 x say, 5 languages x 3 releases a year, bringing our grand total to $7,500 per year in certification. Add $350 for a signing certificate and you've got nearly $8000/yr. in fees.

Now, let's say you use Handango as a channel. They take as much as 60% depending on sales volume (their cut goes up with volume, if you can believe that). So let's just pick 25%, since that's industry norm. That means you'll need gross revenues of over $10,000 per year, or approximately 1,000 unit sales (at $10 each) just to break even on certification and signing costs!

Now I don't know what Symbian will charge, or how their program will be configured, but I can tell you this: the small, independent SW developer is getting wiped out by big business at every turn. Bad patents, DRM, and gratuitous certification and signing requirements are going to make it impossible to distribute apps by anyone without deep pockets.


Re:Independant SW developers are nearing extinctio (1)

macsuibhne (307779) | more than 9 years ago | (#9239478)

According to this interview [symbianone.com] with someone from Symbian marketing, the signing fee is targeted to be in the tens of dollars, not hundreds.

It's all about the cellular operators (1)

moshiko (311814) | more than 9 years ago | (#9239764)

The reason for certifying software is not to hurt developers.
It's aim is to force the user to download only certified software the operator wants him to download.
If a certificate costs money (and it does, any way you look at it) a free software vendor is not going to have one.
Anyone knows an open source project not ran by a major company that can be freely downloaded to your smartphone?
Block that freebies - and squeeze some $$$ from your customer.
The Symbian move aims to lure operators into the growing market of cellular phones content sales.

sybian (0, Troll)

JeremyALogan (622913) | more than 9 years ago | (#9240578)

when I first saw this article (out of the corner of my eye) I thought it was talking about these [sybian.com] and I was thinking to myself "now THAT'S 'News For Nerds'"

Sybian? (1)

stevobi (600234) | more than 9 years ago | (#9242479)

I initially read the title as The Future of the Sybian . Of course I clicked as fast as I could, only to be very disappointed by what it really was about.
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