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Symbian Shutters Its Sites

Sarah Thomas

The Symbian Foundation 's rapid downward spiral continued today as the open-source consortium announced it will shut down the Websites it hosts and stop offering its free software come December 17.

According to the Symbian Ltd. Developer Wiki, the defunct organization is working hard to make sure that most of the content accessible through its sites, including source code, kits, wiki, bug database, reference documentation, and Symbian ideas, will still be available as a DVD Or USB hard drive by the end of January -- for a fee. Source code, however, will no longer be available come mid-December.

Forum Nokia is now the best place to find any developer support, Symbian wrote on the site.

Why this matters
Symbian shutting down its online presence was the natural next step after announcing earlier this month that it would transition into a licensing-only body, letting Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) take development back in house. (See Nokia Takes the Helm at Symbian, Symbian Adopts Licensing Model, and Nokia Commits to Symbian.)

Nokia has already become both the platform's developer and its only major customer, but it has remained vague on how open it plans to keep the OS when it makes it available "to the ecosystem via an alternative direct and open model." (See OS Watch: Samsung, Sony Ericsson Ditch Symbian.)

Michael Bramlage, Nokia's director of media, says that the handset maker's plans for Symbian haven't changed, but it is relegating it to smartphones, where Android dominates. MeeGo is its OS of choice for more advanced devices. Developers can, however, use Nokia's Qt app framework to ensure their apps work on both platforms, but as we've yet to see a MeeGo device, it is unclear how much control Nokia will actually give the ecosystem as it learns from Symbian's open-source failure. (See OS Watch: Developers Rally for Symbian .)

For more
Check out these stories to track Symbian's road to the end and Nokia's OS ups and downs:

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:17:23 PM
re: Symbian Shutters Its Sites

Nokia tried to get others involved but Symbian was always centralized in that the majority of the code writing was done by Symbian.  When Nokia purchased all of it, it was then Nokia handling it but with the same developers as before.  Nokia did want to get others to use it but a good portion have jumped ship to Android.  Android has its own issues, many manufacturers are doing their own thing with it.  You get fragmentation and some apps won't run on some phones.  While open is good, it is hard to write code for a magnitude of different devices, capabilities, etc.  You either write for the lowest common denominator and let all phones run it and leave out much of the wow factor of the app or write for the high-end and limit your market.


Right now there is a lot of buzz around Android but for the most part, people are really buying capabilities and don't care what the phone is running.  The average consumer just thinks that Android does it all and doesn't know that there are alternatives out there.  You also have manufacturers that pretty much make what a carrier wants and the carriers are giving the people Android in hopes of attracting customers.


Worldwide Android shipped 20 million handsets in Q3 and nearly half of those sold in the US.  So Android is big in the US but is lacking elsewhere.  Nokia/Symbian shipped 29 million handsets the same quarter and most of those were not in the US.


Remember that Apple was seeing the huge growth and that they would overtake Nokia.  That has yet to happen and iOS market share growth has slowed while Android has skyrocketed.  In the course of a year or two, the tides could shift again to someone else.  The consumers may want a more open, a more closed or something in the middle.  Depending on what they want, one of the major players will dominate.

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