back to article Symbian smacked by Windows Phone

Microsoft's smartphone operating system, Windows Phone 7, is now outselling Symbian - and it's all thanks to former Symbian stalwart, Nokia. In February 2011, Symbian accounted for 12.4 per cent of the UK smartphone market. A year on and its share had drooped to 2.4 per cent. WinPho, on the other hand, has risen to 2.5 per …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Isn't this just cherrypicked news?

    I mean Symbian is still outselling Windows Phone 7 by a large amount on a global scale...

    How about reporting how Bada even outsells Windows Phone, or won't Microsoft allow that to be reported?

    1. ratfox Silver badge

      Re: Isn't this just cherrypicked news?

      Pschhh, nobody cares about that. It's not as if that is happening in real countries with real people, now is it...

  2. Shonko Kid

    So, Nokia now has < 5% of UK smartphone share?

    If you add the Symbian 2.4% and assume that all of the WinPho7 sales are Nokia's...

    Wow. As fails go, that's pretty epic.

  3. Steve Evans

    Speaks volumes that it took over a year to do that, and involved Nokia being assimilated by the Elop and murdering their own child.

    Hey, Nokia, just think what you could have done if you'd cut down on the meetings and just got on with progressing the Symbian OS and supporting your customer base!

    For the record I'm one of the Symbian losses and Android gains... but I jumped ship a few months before the Elop arrived, I had the N97 experience, which wasn't too bad, but the Nokia after sales "care" (read "couldn't give a shit attitude") made me go elsewhere for my phone after 10+ years of Nokias. So it doesn't matter what OS they put on the phone, I will remember being treated like shit for quite a while.

    1. Tim Walker

      Personally, I was fortunate enough to decide to hang onto my N95 during the N97 debacle, and am now really pleased with my N8 (especially now it's running the Belle (Symbian) OS upgrade), but my thoughts are starting to turn to the medium-to-long-term future, and my eventual next mobile. That could be some time away, as the N8 is currently "just right" for me, but one question stands out: will this be my last Nokia?

      To which my current answer would be: "well, that's in Nokia's hands - are they going to release the 808 PureView in the UK"?

      There's not a snowball's chance in the Sahara that I'll ever buy a Windows Phone device (and there's a blog post or two to be written, as to why not), so the next couple of years holds some interesting choices to be made. It looks increasingly likely that if I don't/can't go for the forthcoming 808, it's ta-ta to Nokia for me.

      1. Steve Evans

        @Tim Walker...

        I'm still got my N95... Unlocked and latest firmware, it's a great little backup phone. Nice big MicroSD in it and it's a perfect MP3 player and FM radio. I take it with me onto the mountain me when I go snowboarding and it's survived everything I've thrown at it - unlike several of my ribs and my arm!

        Plus the battery lasts for days, not hours :-)

        1. Tim Walker

          Re: @Steve Evans :-)

          Yes, I've still got my N95 too - partly as I'm loth to part with the phone I stuck with for three years until I found a "worthy successor" (!), but also because I'll need a reasonable "fallback" if/when the N8 needs to go in for repair, new battery, etc.

          It also makes for a reasonable compact camera - again, if for some reason I can't take the N8... you know what, I think it may be time to return the N95 to active service :-)

          1. Nigel Whitfield.

            Re: @Steve Evans :-)

            I'm mostly using an E72, which is excellent for messaging, but when I was on holiday last year, I took the N95 as a backup - UK sim in that and a foreign one on the E72. And I was pleasantly surprised once more to see the quality of some of the photos that the N95 produced.

  4. Neil 7

    The news is that Symbian sales are eroding faster than WinPho can backfill

    This article is not the real news.

    How long do Nokia keep this up before giving Elop the heave-ho? Can Microsoft cash really keep the good ship Nokia afloat? At what point do Microsoft acquire Nokia, become a hardware manufacturer like Apple and piss off every other ODM that supported them in the past? Or will Microsoft try and do a Google/Motorola? Microsoft are bound to copy one or the other - it's all they do these days.

    Perhaps Nokia could have successfully launched a WinPho product line had they not simultaneously ditched Symbian while telling all the current supporters of that platform that it stank (even when it didn't). That's got to be easily the biggest corporate strategy fuckup in quite some time.

    Then Nokia compounded the problem by genuinely believing that a large proportion of the current Symbian owners would remain blindly loyal to Nokia and proceed to buy their latest Windows Phone tat without any questions - major fail #2.

    Ah well, we're only one year in. The success for Windows Phone is always around the corner with the "next" release, so we're told. Eventually Microsoft might crack it, but Nokia will just be collateral damage by then.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The news is that Symbian sales are eroding faster than WinPho can backfill

      To be fair, has any ODM actually supported WP willingly?

      Its always looked to me that they were doing the bare minimum. Just how many HTC Android phones have released in the last 2 years? Then compare that to the 4 WP devices. Same with all the ODMs.

      You just need to look at WP forums to see people are begging for interesting hardware, and at least Nokia seems to be doing it.

      Had Microsoft not forced Nokia's hand, Nokia would just be the same as HTC, Samsung, etc. All feeding WP scraps, then wondering why they never made any money from WP.

  5. Mark Jan

    Elop must be proud...

    So, Elop jumped off the burning platform into the inflatable WinPho lifeboat after having tried to extinguish the flames with a few hundred gallons of petrol. Trouble is, the poorly designed lifeboat leaked air from the start and Elop is now having to tread water. I wonder how long it'll be before MS throw him a lifebuoy and pull him back to shore...?

    What's left of the smouldering Nokia platform will be easy to dismantle...

  6. SiempreTuna

    Time for a Change of Plan, Nokia ..?

    It's not to late to start pushing out a few Droids - if you're getting out of the phone O/S business, you might as well take with the replacement O/S people are actually buying (given iOS is not an option).

    Nokia's hardware (except for touchscreen) was always head and shoulders above the rest - including the iPhone - but Symbian was dreadful for users. A Nokia Droid could still be a winner.

    Totally agree that Nokia's attitude to the people using it's phones (remembering that their customer was always the network - clearly) hasn't helped them. They improved slightly once the iPhone started hurting, but not enough.

    Lesson to be learned - sorry: completely ignored - by any other currently successful and arrogant companies: you're going to need friends when things get tough.

    1. Nigel Whitfield.

      Re: Time for a Change of Plan, Nokia ..?

      OK, I accept that I might not be a typical user, but I struggle to see how exactly Symbian is universally dreadful for users. Sure, the web browsing experience isn't exactly wonderful with the built in browser, but for the things I actually use my phone for - email and, well, making phone calls, it actually does a damn good job.

      And, as far as I can gather from reading reviews of other platforms - which, of course, tend not to focus on this stuff - none of the others yet does the things that I really expect them to, in terms of call handling.

      By that I mean things like per-group ring tones, selective alerting for incoming calls, and well integrated VoIP. And, in ProfiMail, a really good IMAP client.

      Sure, if you want something to play with apps, and games, then a Symbian phone's probably not for you. But I don't find it a dreadful experience, by any stretch of the imagination, because it's a device for communicating, not gaming, or shopping, or playing music.

      1. Mark Jan

        Re: Time for a Change of Plan, Nokia ..?

        I agree with you. Symbian was (and still is) the most optimised mobile OS. People confuse the underlying OS and the GUI. Overlay a decent GUI and a "dreadful" experience becomes great, eg any of SPBs offerings.

        I've never really understood how a third party company without Nokia's resources can take a Nokia phone and create a far better user experience...

        Nokia's browsers do indeed suck, but just download Opera.

      2. Tom 13


        I'm not a big mobi user, but the way I read the tea leaves, it's really got nothing to do with how dreadful it is for users. It's how dreadful it has been for the company to support development of the OS. I read it as mostly self-inflicted wounds, but fatal never the less. So their choice is whether to go Android or WinPho, because iOS is out.

      3. ThomH Silver badge

        Re: Time for a Change of Plan, Nokia ..? (@Nigel)

        I received a brand-new, fully unlocked N8 from Nokia because I'd turned up to a developer day. So although I haven't upgraded it to Belle, I think I can claim unadulterated experience of Symbian's last commercial stand.

        Problem one: consistency. It felt like three or four separate widget sets glued randomly together. I'm talking about things like the bundled applications exhibiting at least three different types of scroll view. In the settings there were still a few that required me to poke at and drag a nub on a scrollbar. In most of the apps they'd settled on a direct manipulation metaphor but with no inertia. In a few they'd decided to go with direct manipulation and inertia. So the experience is muddled and confused, and basically relies on me learning to adjust my expectations on how to scroll content for each individual app by rote.

        Problem two: tacked on touch screen hacks. To enter text into a text box in Symbian as shipped on the N8 you tap the text box. You're then taken to a completely separate, mostly blank screen — often with almost no context — to enter your text. When you press okay you're taken back to the screen with the text box and the text box is filled with whatever you just typed. I don't care how hard it was to hack an on-screen keyboard into the OS, that's just unacceptable. And, again, I'm talking primarily about the bundled apps, supplied right on the handset, not third-party offerings that someone somewhere couldn't be bothered to adapt.

        Problem three: incredibly poor use of screen real estate. I seemed forever to be having to navigate little pop-up menus down three or four levels just to access basic app functionality. Again I suspect a junior somewhere was told to 'make the menus work on touch screens' and given about three days in which to do it.

        Problem four: poor development environment that fosters all of the above problems. On my developer day they'd invited an ex-employee who was then gainfully employed outside the company in Symbian software creation to evangelise about the state of the platform. He primarily boasted about how incredible it was that he'd managed closely to duplicate an iOS app he'd built while only spending about three weeks on replicating things like animated transitions between views that iOS gives you for free. They made lots of promises about QT Quick, which at the time still hadn't even shipped, showing how neat it was that if we (i) put a graphic down on the canvas; and (ii) put a touch area in front of it then we've managed to reproduce something a bit like a button. It doesn't give any feedback cues on user interactions or anything, but obviously as a developer you should be implementing that stuff yourself for every single app, right?

        As a mature platform with a history of techy users I'm sure Symbian is just feature packed. But as a user I don't care when even the basic features are so obfuscated that I have to spend days learning the phone before I can use it.

        1. Nigel Whitfield.

          Re: Time for a Change of Plan, Nokia ..? (@ThomH)

          I must admit, I've had only passing acquaintance with the touch screen models, because I prefer a physical keyboard. The inconsistencies would doubtless grate; I'm told they're a bit better now, thankfully, in Belle.

          But it does irk me that touchscreens and fewer buttons mean, for example, that where I can just type a number and press the right hand 'Net call' soft key on my E72, I'm now expected to root around in menus to find the appropriate option or - on some platforms - actually launch a separate application to make a call over VoIP. Much as I know people like touch interfaces, I struggle to see how making something that used to be straightforward into a something so much more complex is actually in improvement.

    2. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

      Re: Time for a Change of Plan, Nokia ..?

      "Totally agree that Nokia's attitude to the people using it's phones (remembering that their customer was always the network - clearly) hasn't helped them. They improved slightly once the iPhone started hurting, but not enough."

      Not quite true - you could always buy Nokia's phones unlocked to any network, and one of the reasons for them dropping marketshare in the USA (a process that was nearly complete by 2007, incidentally) was their unwillingness to remove hardware features at the behest of operators. (The other major factor was a long-running dispute with Qualcomm that effectively barred Nokia from selling to the CDMA networks.)

      If you believe that any phonemaker (and that definitely includes Apple) is *not* primarily selling to the network operators, then I have some very valuable Irish property investments I think you'd be interested in...

      (and if you think Nokia selling Android would be super awesome, have a look at the results of anyone EXCEPT Samsung ... even HTC aren't going so well, and as for Sony(Ericsson) - they're completely screwed)

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    To the haters

    All you haters are just jealous, because the Windows Phone 7 ship has came to a halt and is now slowly turning and heading in the right direction.

    iPhone sales are dropping and Android is fragmented as hell but soon Windows Phone 7 (sorry 7.5 actually no I mean Windows Phone 8) will emerge victorious crushing all competition.

    People know and love Windows they'll flock to the platform soon and inflate that lifeboat

    1. introiboad

      Re: To the haters

      How's the weather today in Trollembourg?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: To the haters

        I dunno, let's ask Barry Shitpeas, he must own an estate there...

    2. Tom 13

      Re: To the haters

      You forgot the /sarc tag, so you've confused people.



      It this part that gives it away:

      ...soon Windows Phone 7 (sorry 7.5 actually no I mean Windows Phone 8) will emerge...

    3. Long Fei

      Re: To the haters

      Haha, thanks for that post, it made me laugh. I could use a bit of humor today.

      As an aside, I was a long term Nokia customer until I couldn't withhold my disgust at their dropping of Symbian (and failure to follow through with Meego). They work for years on a replacement/upgrade and then, just before it's due out, chuck it away? That makes little sense on any level.

      I'm not an Android man. Good work Nokia. Way to alienate people.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I know this is obvious but while the change

    in percentages is interesting, it would be easier to make sense of if overall sales of the relevant phones could be reported, not just percent of the market - i.e. if the total market sales are 10 million handsets one year, and the market share of one system is 10%, and then next year, sales are 20 million, and the market share of that system is 5%, units shifting in that system remain the same tho their market share is falling.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Fevzi Turkalp always said Windows CE would outsell Symbian and every other mobile OS one day.

    So he was right after all...

  10. Andus McCoatover

    It's the apps!

    It's that bloody simple. Find a cooking site that lets you have a phone app, and it's...Android.

    Same as Angry Birds for the newer games, newspapers...whatever.

    They're (the companies who punt the apps) aren't interested in Windows, nor Symbian. OK, iOS, but I reckon that's not keeping up.

    Makes me weep I bought a Nokia 08 sometimes. Pity those poor folks who shelled out for a Meego 09. They got nothing except a pretty (expensive, as well as aesthetic) phone.


    "The easiest way to get The Register App on any other mobile devices is to point the device at:

    It will either sniff out your device and help you download the correct app, or it will present you with a list of manufacturers and operating systems that you can walk through to find the right app for your device.

    My N8? "Sorry, your device isn't supported..."

    1. Christian Berger Silver badge

      I don't want apps

      I want my software on that little box. Maemo gave that to me. Maemo had OpenVPN, ssh, any a big chunk of software you'd find on your normal Linux box. I don't care for some trivial closed source binary blob, I want proper software.

  11. januszs

    Wasn't it expected to happen around 2002?

    If I recall well since then crashing Symbian by Microsoft was predicted. Microsoft showed to be patient once more but one may point that nowadays Symbian 2.0 is called Android as many early Symbian employees switched houses once Android entered the scene and it is not a surprise that Google located some of its mobile development teams in London almost next to Symbian headquarters. So for the final win Microsoft still has some work to do.

  12. James 47

    Jo Harlow is secretly gutted at the great reception the 808 PureView received. However, I'm sure she won't pass up the opportunity to bask in the glory.

  13. Christian Berger Silver badge

    This is probably not about market shares

    This is probably about Microsoft wanting to buy Nokia and nothing else, perhaps in order to destroy the comapany.

    Nokia simply has 2 major competitors at the field, both of which have way better chances than Windows Phone. Symbian might be an old platform, but it works and is more productive than WP. Maemo/Meego appeals to professional users with technical backgrounds.

    So Microsoft essentially has 2 choices to compete, either open WP and ditch the forced code signing, or put normal Windows onto a mobile device. Yet another closed system won't win them any users, particularly once the App-bubble bursts.

  14. npo4

    Bad for Nokia?

    Surely this is bad for Nokia, as although I agree Windows Phone is better than Symbian,

    The WP gain has failed to make up for Symbians loss after their switch...

  15. Nick Kew Silver badge

    Power Consumption

    Serious question here.

    If symbian is being orphaned, is there any smartphone OS around with comparable battery life to what I get on the E71? I'd dismiss iphone/android for a phone[1] on grounds of having to recharge every bloomin' day. No idea about windows.

    [1] as opposed to pocket-puter.

    1. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

      Re: Power Consumption

      Serious answer: probably Nokia's own Series40 - this has now got to the point where it fulfils the requirements of being a "smartphone OS"... the latest releases even do Exchange synchronisation, which used to be the big differentiator between "business" and "consumer" mobiles.

      If you don't care about the latest service-based apps, and just want to be able to make calls, send texts, read your email and check your calendar, something like the Nokia Asha 302 ( is remarkably similar to the E71 in features, although there are a couple of fairly notable omissions (no satellite GPS, no autofocus camera, no exchange attachment handling, no multitasking for 3rd-party apps, proxy browser only). But for £99 unlocked, you can't really have everything, I guess.

  16. Snapper


    Why is 'Android' always pitched against Apple as a single entity? Is it because no single Android phone supplier can come anywhere near Apple's figures and the headline writers need to show that 'someone' is 'beating' Apple?

  17. Robredz

    Windows Phone, Glass Houses

    Shame Nokia couldn't adopt WebOs as an option that would be tasty

  18. JimmyPage Silver badge

    Windows phone - dead and gone.

    the market has spoken. Personally, I have no beef about Windows Phone (since I got saddled with one at work). But the complete lack of apps for it means it doesn't really deserve the "smart" label.

  19. GrundHolm-The-Illigitamate

    Now Nokia's championing Windows phones...

    ... will JPZR get his job back?

    Just wondering...

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