Sonntag, 25. April 2010

Nokia & Symbian: Hurry Up!

It might look like I am becoming a Nokia basher. But beeing a Nokia and Symbian user for quite some time, I really would like to see Nokia returning to the first line of smartphone producers. But they have to move, or they won't catch up to the rest of the field anymore.
Just one year ago, I have been satisfied with my Nokia 5800 XM. In a direct comparision to the iPhone 3G running iPhone OS 2.x, the 5800 has been a clear winner for me.
What happened until now? Apple brought iPhone OS 3.x and the iPhone 3GS, both reasonable improvements to their predecessors. This was enough for me to switch to the iPhone. Apple already announced iPhone OS 4.0, which will probably arrive around June. This one will further improve the platform, and the next iPhone, rumored to be called iPhone HD, will definitely be a step forward.
But Apple is not the only competitor. Google's Android is doing well, and during the livetime of S60 5th Ed., Android users got Android OS 1.5, 2.0, 2.1 and 2.2 is coming.
Let's compare to Nokia & Symbian. Nokia came out with the N97. Compared to the 5800, it offered a slide out keyboard, a better camera, a better screen and some other improvements. But it is probably to big for anyone except geeks and came with too little megabytes of RAM, making the system unstable when running out of memory. Read more about this on This has not been a phone to compete on the high end with the iPhone, even for someone like me who prefers hardware keyboards.
On the software side, this is still S60 5th Edition, now with a new gadgetable homescreen. I just thought "Wow. Is this all you have done in the meantime?"
To be fair, Nokia had quite some work to do in the background making Symbian OS open source and by the way getting rid of UIQ, thus uniting the Symbian community. Symbian started with a very ambitioned release planning, always working on several releases in parallel so they could release a new version every 6 months. Unfortunately, these plans look like they became a litte over-ambitioned.
The first release delivered by, called Symbian^2, is already some months behind schedule. They needed more time for hardening. The original planning has been to release first handsets with Symbian^2 in the first half of 2010. Now, we might be lucky if we see just the OS in this timeframe. And even if it will come out: Symbian^2 would not offer much, which could close the gap to competitors like the iPhone or Android. It looks like the N97's widgetable homescreen will become standard in Symbian^2 and there will be a bunch of updates on network protocols. But for most users, Symbian^2, which has initially been planned as S60 5.1, it won't offer any visible advantages. According to an article from intomobile, Nokia might also plan to skip Symbian^2 and release the next family of handsets with the coming Symbian^3. But this one is late also.
So while Apple as well as Google and their partners are constantly releasing new OS'es and handsets, Nokia seems to stand still. There is no alternative, Nokia has to execute. No more delays in OS releases, get them out of the door. And this time put them into devices without major flaws.

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