The biggest problem with Symbian...
...is the handsets - particularly Nokia handsets.
Every time Nokia come up with a killer design, they kill it off six months later, leaving the most stupid (but somehow "trendy") designs that most people wouldn't touch with a bargepole.
Even a friend of mine, who works for Nokia, said that the company's habit of killing off its best-selling handsets just mere months after they're launched, is why the company is losing out.
The iPhone, love it or hate it, is at least available on the market six months after launch...
I agree with all the above, except for the title.
As I see it, the main problem with Symbian is Symbian itself.
A nasty clunky thing which looks like it came from the dark ages of phone UI's.
Nokia really doesn't do itself any favours with the constant redesigning of phones with ugly nonsensical designs with far too many buttons spaced all over the place, seemingly randomly.
Symbian isn't the problem, it's the UI used by Nokia that's the problem. It's Avkon that's the issue, and that's being addressed by replacing it with Qt's Orbit (but not until Symbian^4).
Wait, do I see a .us in El Reg's domain name, or is that .co.uk ?
The fact that Symbian is loosing market share in the US doesn't stop it from having around 50% marketshare worldwide.
The only thing that will save Nokia..
Is if they drop this MeeGoo bullshit, join the Open Handset Alliance and develop Android phones.
Nokia, stick to what you are great at, making handsets, let someone else deal with the OS.
MeeGo is someone else's OS (Intel's Moblin), and the former Maemo was Debian basically.
S60 used Symbian OS (based on Psion's OS) and the S60 UI was jointly developed with others. The newer open source Symbian stuff is Symbian Foundation of which Nokia is only one of many, and the replacement Qt UI was developed by Trolltech.
The phones where the OS was wholly developed by Nokia are all the S40 feature phones, which are rock solid reliable and what Nokia has always been best at making (and still sell extremely well which is why Nokia retains such a large market share of mobiles worldwide).
re: Oliver Jones
Apple only have 1 model in their range, pretty much. Usually the updates add things obviously missing (iphone 5 will have mobile network coverage when you hold it).
The problem with Symbian is that it's just not as pretty as the competition, despite being the main flexible mobile OS for years, the focus hasn't been on making it shiny.
"the focus hasn't been on making it shiny"
Or usable as far as I can tell.
Stop looking at these screen and start comparing real functionality!!!
Why is it that everybody complains about "an unappealing interface" without bother to look at the real functionality?
What's so goddamn great with these "modern" phones. They have less functionality then (most of) their predecessors. But one thing they all have in common. Great super-duper AMO-PIPO-kako-whatever-LED screens with amazing high resolution (yeah right on a 3.5" thingy in your fecking hand). Which necessitates the need for even a faster processor and hence less battery-life.
Just look at what's left out (compared to other models from the same manufacturer) on the Samsung Galaxy S for example? Sure it has a fast cpu and super AMO-dickshit-screen but that's it! It has no new or even improved functionality compared to it's older brother. In fact if it looses some (it's the only high-end model without LED flash). If Samsung (in this particular case) wasn't such a jack-ass company and just properly released updates across their entire range of phones than the old Galaxy probably beats the shit out o/t new one. And hence defeats the purpose o/t new one altogether.
I'm not sure how Nokia handles the lifespan of their devices. But what I've seen so far is much better then Samsung, HTC or even Apple.
I would like it if "reviewers" would stop concentrating on how good the screen is (or how fast the cpu is on paper) but more at actual features (compared to former models). Because in that respect my ancient Omnia (which runs the wrongly most despised WM6.1 OS) beats the crap out on most other handsets out there (yet it hasn't got the best screen).
I think that most Symbian phones have a great featureset and decent build quality for a fair price. In fact I played a few times with a colleagues Nokia 5530 and I was suprised how swift it was for such a lower-end smartphone. It feels solid in hand though it's made of plastic. I thought its UI wasn't so bad at all with big colourfull icons. In fact I was right at home in few minutes, taking snaps, movies, sending stuff over bluetooth to PC etc... It even has a great call quality. I was really impressed with it. Especially considering its price. At one moment I even thought of getting its bigger brother the 5800 just to see if my impression was correct.
At least you can make proper phonecalls with it without wearing a condom over your head.
Nasty nasty piece of poo, that can theoretically 'do almost anything'
But who would really want to?
Whilst it's undeniable that Symbian is packed with features and always has been, its fortunes changed when the user base switched from business to average consumer.
At this point even business users started to realise they don't need to put up with endless menus full of options to find simple things like the SMS send item, they simply prefer a big button on the same screen they've entered the message. When Symbian comes round to this way of thinking, and cuts out the less than slick view changes it might have a chance.
As for Nokia build quality, I have to disagree. The 5530 is just about bearable (certainly not stylish), but the 5230 and flagship X6 feel like they've been made from recycled Christmas cracker prizes.
But what we're talking about here ...
... is developing for Symbian, and that's a pain in the Swiss compared to Android.
dunno if I agree
Symbian as I see it is Nokia's only chance of being anything other than a manufacturer.
As devices become a commodity, price (where Symbian kicks ass) will be the main driver of market share provided Nokia sort out their UI and the Ovi store. QT is great to work with, and QML (finally beta'd last month) looks really cool (but needs a bit more work) so they're moving in the right direction but too slowly. Focusing on MeeGo will slow them down further because it takes time to eek out efficiency in code.
Considering where they were starting with - the old Avkon UI and crap developer tools - Nokia have actually come a long way in a few years. What's more, the speed of change is accelerating.
The one problem is their management don't understand the services industry. They're selling space on Ovi maps through intermediaries. That's not the internet services model - or at least it's not the model of the big players and Nokia's aspired position. Management may be changing too... so all's not lost.
Competition is good for everyone and I hope Symbian is sailing in warmer waters next year.
While I think its demise would ultimately be a good thing for the mobile industry (one less OS to complicate development and more space for Android to become the de-facto standard), I secretly hope that Symbian will eventually bounce back. It has got so many nice things going: open kernel backed by an independent foundation, Qt as native framework, and now an Web2.0-happy application environment...
How come companies always produce their best ideas when they're already too wrecked to make good on them? Just look at Palm and the webOS.