Divided they fall… Symbian continues to weaken

Nokia recently announced its to ditch Symbian software for its high-end smartphones, instead using MeeGo that was announced at Mobile World Congress this year. The N-series has been Nokia’s crown jewel for years and dominated the smartphone space before the arrival of Apple’s iPhone (be-careful how you hold it) and HTC’s Android-based devices. “Going forward, N-series devices will be based on MeeGo,” said Nokia spokesman Doug Dawson.

MeeGo is in a tough position as it was positioned as fulfilling the Smartbook category (ARM based laptop) which will likely be squeezed between the smartphone and PC/Mac/Linux OSs.  The decision to have high-end smartphones use MeeGo rather than Symbian will likely have limited impact on MeeGo, while its impact on Symbian will be much more devicisive as it essentially splits Nokia’s ecosystem which will put off developers even more.  Critically, in some of the latest MeeGo presentations the kernel isn’t presented as Linux, see below, rather calling it the MeeGo kernel as they are likely creating a tightly controlled vertical like iPhone, RIM and increasingly Android and Microsoft.  Also its unclear Nokia and Intel are converging their value ecosystems, that is the vertically integrated solution from app ingestion; through discovery, delivery and device management; to a slick integrated user experience – creating yet more division thus putting developers off further.
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With this announcement I’ve revised the smartphone OS projections I maintain, see below, which I started maintaining back in 2006 when I was helping A la Mobile – who demonstrated the industry’s first applications based on the open source Android application framework, running on HTC’s Qtek 9090 advanced smartphone back in January 2008 (I’ll not discuss how Google reacted).  Andreas Constantinou has an excellent weblog entry entitled “Android is Evil”, where its clear the term open source in Android is really for marketing purposes from an OEM’s perspective.  But back to Symbian, this latest mis-step by Nokia will ensure Symbian looses its smartphone OS lead by around 2014.
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