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back to article Symbian chief withdraws from iPhone and Android fight

The leader of the consortium fighting off Android and the iPhone has stepped down after just two years. Symbian executive director Lee Williams has left, effective immediately, the Foundation said Tuesday, and been replaced by the group's chief financial officer Tim Holbrow. In a statement, Symbian cited "personal reasons" for …

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Pint

Sounds sane to me!

Perhaps he simply has the good common sense to not get involved in Google and Steve's childish playground bitchiness!

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Anonymous Coward

I'm trying to work out which is more interesting:

where Williams ends up, or who replaces him...

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FAIL

S60?

So Symbian say goodbye to the man who was at the helm during their fall from popularity for the last 2 years.

People point out the poor UI as the reason Symbian is not as popular as the Android and i-Phones, yet this isn't Symbian. It's S60 - again, the previous responsibility of Lee Williams.

It's a shame they suffered from poor leadership and the downfall of Nokia, as it's a neat OS under the bonnet.

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Anonymous Coward

Misunderstanding the community for massive mindshare loss.

Symbian isn't really open source in any sense I'd recognize the term. I mean, yes, you can get the source, but it's perfectly useless. The toolchain is proprietary, you need a windows box, and best of all, if you do manage to compile the entire thing, there's nothing you can run it on.

Yes, that's right. The system shipped with some hundred-odd million handsets but exactly none of those will run the stuff you might compile from this pile of "open source". All the hardware it will run on --maybe, the porting is still in progress-- is a beagle board. Now there's nothing wrong with beagle boards, really, but there's so much more interesting things I can run on those, and it doesn't even look close to a handset. The fact remains that if there is a more impressive way to present yourself to the open source community with a single slide named "figure one", I have yet to see it.

Nice symbolic move, but so futile it's actually painful to look at. They know this; someone told them as much commenting on their blog, causing an apologetic slashdot submission. Nothing further happened. For months.

From their actions, they simply want symbian to die. They just haven't admitted it to themselves yet. Oh well.

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Anonymous Coward

Very good points

I had a look at developing on the phone, and after a long registration process found out the tools were Windows only. Ridiculous

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Thumb Down

This might actually be good for the Symbian Foundation

You may think I am spinning the news until it gets dizzy but Lee Williams was a Nokia man trying to steer the Foundation for the benefit of Nokia and, contrary to popular belief, there is a large base of users of Symbian OS (but not Nokia's S60 UI) in Japan shipping phones. Who knows, putting somebody truly neutral at the helm might even help.

Of course, it might be as the cynics predict and Nokia just want total contral back... Time will tell. In any case, regardless of control, I think Symbian will remain open source; MeeGo (supposedly the future) is also open source.

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Thumb Up

Good move

Seems to me that Symbian Foundation has failed to attract widespread support under Lee Williams (and is in fact losing support, ie. Samsung and SonyEricsson). This isn't the fault of the open source nature of Symbian Foundation or even the product they are pushing but the direct failure of his leadership.

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FAIL

Bye Bye Symbian Foundation

The writing's on the wall. Not even robo-duck can save you now. Shame really, Symbian is paying for S60's poor leadership, management and implementation.

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Coffee/keyboard

anon cubed ...

Many anons ... like half of the Symbian Foundation and/or Nokia are using the chance to vent some steam.

Regarding the Symbian Foundation, Nokia approached it in typical corporate manner - like others before, check the experiences (non-exhaustive list) made by IBM (Eclipse, JFS, DProbes), Sun (Solaris, GPL-Java, OpenOffice, Gnome Accessibility), TrollTech (Qt prop license spawning Gnome then Qt-GPL), SGI (XFS, OpenGL), XenSource/Citrix (Xen), MIT (the original X11 server sources) when "opensourcing" certain big chunks of software.

Initially they all thought that it's a done deal just throwing the source to the dogs (== external contributors, code monkeys, ...). "Dogs won't scorn a bone" ... yeah right. It took the mentioned products years to build an independent developer base, if at all. Some never took off. Some, in the forms they finally got mainlined/"externalized" barely resemble the originally opensourced code anymore. Some went mostly back to the warm corporate fold.

Can't build it with a free toolchain ? Can't build it with an elsewhere-available/used free toolchain ? Can't build it under my-fav-oss-os ? Can't debug it with a free toolchain ? Can't run it anywhere ? How many gigabytes was it again ? Hey I managed to get the build/tools setup done (after a week) and got a build started but it's still running after a day what's up ? I want Symbian+Qt and not all these horrible lead anchors of old code why can I not ditch {Ei/Avkon, layer-on-layer-on-layer-of-libraryXX, ...} ? Can't we at least clean up the code to make the build gcc-Wall-clean ?

How many hoops do I need to jump through again in order to get a bugfix integrated ?

In other words, the code is visible. The fact that the build procedures are "arcane" is visible. Might make an interesting study object for a software engineering university course. Enhancing it, working with it for fun not money, is probably as enjoyable as a coldwater colonic irrigation. Have been told some people love it.

Having the code available is surely a great help when doing app development and debugging. You don't need to be able to build nor modify/enhance it to get that benefit.

A thriving OpenSource community, a self-sufficient project, though, is something very different. Although, as others mentioned before, that might never have been the idea.

Corp BigWigs: Wake up - "opening" a bureaucracy doesn't make people want to work with one. Unlikely even for pay, bl**dy unlikely for nothing.

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Anonymous Coward

This AC not affiliated with anything corporate there, no.

I actually wouldn't mind helping a hand cleaning the code. I've done such before, and while tediously boring at times, it does have its high points and is curiously rewarding. But I wouldn't do it for free, and certainly not while there's (presumably highly paid) bigwigs running around that can't do more than apologise for jobs not done but don't manage to get anything done by themselves.

How I would do it? For starters, if one or two otherwise useless execs would've been useful at monkeying with code they could've released a gcc-able symbian in a couple of months, tops. That might start to attract more people. Release the hardware support for a couple phones. Say maybe one a month, that's only a dozen per year, but enough to stir up attention and draw people in. And that's what you need to do as executive. The idea isn't to select the best and hire them, but to lure the most interested and hope some of them will contribute good enough code. To kick off a large-ish open source project, you need to release early, you need to release often, and you need to show progress. What you release needs to have at least some use or failing that show clear promise for the short term future.

I've seen exactly none of that.

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Anonymous Coward

corporate affiliation ?

You work for a corporate, you know what you get from a corporate. That's why it's called "work". Which is in striking contrast to "spare time activities", as would be contributing to opensource projects.

When it comes to opensourcing projects, what annoys me about corporates is not so much the fact that they are corporates (and bureaucracies) and work like corporates, but rather that, when it comes to opensourcing formerly-closed code, they pompously claim "we are not [corporates]" / "we are open now" / "we want to get you involved now".

All that while it's off-limits to even think about doing a slash-and-burn of bureaucratic hurdles to "playing with the code" in the widest sense.

It's this weird, self-celebrating, top-brass-ego-stroking falseness in the exercise that makes these "opensourcing events" a surreal experience, and leaves a somewhat annoying deja-vu feeling. It's treated as marketing exercise first, and then, maybe, some later point in the future, eventually - but probably only after the marketing paid off - a few small steps towards changing development processes and practices towards being welcoming, developer-friendly as in easy-to-build/test/use, and technically-driven.

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Anonymous Coward

In this case, they're getting what they deserve

only at the cost of the open sourced system, which is perhaps a spot of loss, if you believe the people that insist symbian is quite good (hi andrew!). If so that'd be a right pity.

Personally I'm not convinced. I now own an e52 (hi andrew!) and am seriously considering swapping back the (old) old 6310 since the thing sucks so much. Despite that the 6310 lacks all the features I bought the e52 for. Most of them plain don't work or work fantastically crappy in the e52, so it's a bit of a toss-up. The primary selection criterion next to battery life was VoIP, only to find out that its implementation doesn't work with far and away the most of everyone else. Yes, what the e52 does is perfectly legal per RFC. No, it doesn't work where it reportedly did with the e51 (which has half the advertised battery life). The e52 also turns out to eat a lot more battery than advertised especially if something as silly as a game is idling in the background. There's more like that. It makes me a bit sad to've fallen for the marketeering promises.

And there's plenty of things that worked fine in the 6310 and the e52 just plain doesn't do. I have a long list of things I'd like to see fixed in the e52 but setting up a development environment is a tad painful (also: unix buff here) and anyway no hardware support from symbian.org. Maybe I don't need it, maybe I don't really want to bother finding out whether I need it. The full open source monty is the full open source monty and this is not it.

This quite probably is the last time I considered nokia for my phone supplier.

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FAIL

Lame robo duck

Lee Williams should stay around and suck up responsibility for the failure of Symbian, rather than running off before the lights go out. It's mostly down to him and his (lack of) leadership that they're in such a state.

Ask any Symbian insider how much he spent on the Conversation Group (consultants) or the brand. Then ask any other open source organisation if that's standard practice.

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failure should have ensured removal a while ago

Its amazing isn't it - if you are 'junior' and fail in your job the company will remove you fairly quickly. At the top you get 'paid' for success, and also 'paid' and kept for years when you are clearly failing. It never seems that it is the 'fault' at the top when failure happens but always the 'cleverness' of the CEO when success happens.

The whole Symbian and S60 carry on has for many years now been a disaster. Symbian was never a complete OS, licencing either S60 or UIQ placed far too much work on potential licencees as well as massive cost and problems of even more licencing - leading to a best case 2 year multimillion pound several hundred people effort just to get the software working! This was never addressed. Perhaps now it will be! Symbian is a decent OS inside, it has far fewer defects and bugs than the jonny come lately immature but glossy products. It needs good leadership to succeed - and as its a British product I think it can. The latest Symbian based products from Nokia at last show some improved thinking

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Anonymous Coward

Lame robo duck

Lee Williams should stay around and suck up responsibility for the failure of Symbian, rather than run off before the lights go out. It's mostly down to him and his (lack of) leadership that they're in such a state.

Ask any Symbian insider how much he spent on consultancy from the Conversation Group or the branding. Then ask any other open source organisation if that's standard practice.

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Coat

Personal reasons ?

Probably his ears are sensitive to the high pitched whining generated by both opposing camps.

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