The problem with all this is just the same as with Nokia shouting how big of a market share they have or Symbian shouting how open-source they are: okay, I believe it all - but what do I, the average end-user/device-owner get from all that? Basically nothing. With this crappy N97 I've had for like a year by now, don't tell me Symbian is satisfied with lower hardware specs, because it's sluggish and slow even with the uninspiring UI that lacks any eye candy. And somehow I doubt Symbian^3 will be any different, seeing how it's simply a nip/tucked Symbian^1 - something that the N97 should've brought last year, if not the 5800 a year before. (And Symbian^4 is still just way too far.) And take a look at applications: everything's available for iPhone and Android but how many percent of that can you find on Symbian? At most maybe 8-9%, and I'm being optimistic.
Same goes for development actually. Yeah, Symbian might have its own native code and support for Java and Flash and Qt and whatnot, but what good is it devs don't care about it? You know, if you have a headache and ten different kinda meds but you've no idea which one is for headaches - you don't have any meds at all... Yeah, maybe Qt will be big. Emphasis on will be. Everything is future for Nokia for now, at this segment, because the present is just botched up, but you can't remedy current situations with promises for the future. At the same time, the competitors are out there, doing their thing, and they're doing it good, already introducing (if they haven't yet introduced) things that Nokia still only has in the form of a promise for the future. Android might only have a crappy Java-based framework, but even so, it has more diverse apps/games, basically is just more widespread while Symbian support is diminishing. Might be an infant, but already doing better as of now than the struggles of Symbian/Nokia.
And imo, the future doesn't look bright either. Symbian^3, Symbian^4, MeeGo...and for another year or two, there also has to be support and all for the older Symbian devices as well. What's on the other side? Android, iOS4, WP7 - three different platforms, without any further segmentation to them. Choose between having a hundred bucks in one hundred one-dollar bills or one hundred-dollar bill...
Thank you so much breathless for making this post, I was appalled that no one was pointing the obvious at such a biased post!
I'm going to do some commenting of my own as well, which will hopefully enlighten some of the readers to the fallacies and incorrections of the OP.
First and foremost we are graced with a long speech on hardware specs and how Symbian runs on hardware with low specs. Well, that's not true at all. For starters, Symbian v5 won't even run on older devices; granted it was created for touch devices but still, it has newer features that will never make it to the N95 powerhouse for example. Then there's something also wrong about bringing specs into the discussion. Phones evolve in terms of hardware, it's always been like that and as you probably know, the Nokia 7650 didn't have nowhere as high specs as these devices nowadays do and that's just the way it is, normal evolution. Just like you don't try to run Windows XP in an Intel 8086, you also don't try to run SymbianOS v5 on 7650.
Then the OP mentions maturity of the platform is great on Maemo because it's 5 years old BUT in actual fact it's much older than that because it's as old as Linux. Great one. Android is just as old then and if you consider that WP7 will have some reminiscence of Windows, then it's also about as old, maybe a little bit younger. Blackberry would be the youngest but I reckon their platform is actually pretty solid and that's evident by the sheer number of followers that just love it and don't trade it for anything else. Likewise, the iPhone OS is also very old because it's based on Mac OS X which in turn is based on BSD, can you get older than that?
The OP also seems to be very quick to dismiss the question of apps, in terms of quantity and quality, maybe because it's a topic that Symbian users don't like to address, much less Symbian fanboys. In the original post, we find the following sentence "I don't think Android holds a candle to Symbian at this stage of its development, however elegant its UI may be". This reveals a deep lack of knowledge of business in software development because you know, to the end-user, the UI **IS** the software. I read a great article about this but I can't seem to find it right now. But anyway, back to the issue of apps: Symbian's app ecosystem is small and lacks in quality. Sure, you have the "famous" apps like GPS software and things of the like, but you lack the games and the helper apps that allow you to do things with your phone that you never thought were possible. Moreso, all Nokia phones so far have a resistive screen which only allows one touch at a time, as opposed to the capacitive screens used by Apple, HTC et al that support multi-touch, making the experience so much better and opening up so many more possibilities in terms of input.
Then we read about how Dalvik VM is a last generation Java based custom virtual machine. Wrong. The Dalvik VM is a JVM on steroids, fully optimized for mobile platforms and recently, Google has even created a new JIT compiler (available on Android OS 2.2) that improves its performance by many times (can't recall exactly how many but I leave it up to the OP to do his homework if he's interested...).
Mozilla... that's a funny topic to bring up. People who have used Chrome have now come to realize how slow Firefox is. The Mozilla people are holding to their guns and keeping the threaded model for each tab and it shows in the performance of the browser, especially when you use plugins like Flash. In any case, why in heavens do I need Firefox on an Android phone when they have the fastest mobile browser ever? It's faster than the iPad's Safari, it's **certainly** faster than **any** Nokia phone, BY FAR.
Then just to finalize because I'm still outraged by the original post, the author says: "I believe Qt will realize the mission Java never accomplished(...)". Ridiculous. Java has at this point beaten C and C++ to the punch in terms of popularity: http://langpop.com/ and the programming language will never be a barrier for mobile development. Actually, I find Qt and Symbian development archaic at the best, no one wants to use Qt and actually Qt is a framework, comparing it to Java is in itself ridiculous and reveals lack of education in programming. You will never have write-once-run-anywhere with Qt because even if you have the Qt libraries available across many programming languages, you'll still have to rewrite the code as the actual programming language is different.
Nice text, great defense..but N97 sucks, Ovi sucks , Nokia is losing ground despite your words. Android is growing really fast in Europe, Nokia´s land.
I´ve been a Nokia fan for years since 6600 . But I can stand any more. Its really a pain when you want that app and Symbian doesnt have. Ok, I got free navigation gps on my 5800.
The guys on Nokia are lost . In the same way as the people in "Lost". Now Nokia has S40, S60 5th, S60 ^3, then Meego, then , then...they are shooting in the dark.
It is sad. Really sad. Symbian is going to be remembered as the leader who felt in mobile OS world.
There´s something really wrong when you dont have developers creating app for you OS. You cant deny that. The Symbian-Guru guy, Ricky, left the wagon . The new Nokia manager , said the Nokia wants him back. Oh , yes ?! Really ? So now they are worried ? They should be as many manufacturers have plans to release low cost Android phones in the next months. If you guys dont see Symbian is in great danger, then you are more then freaks, you are blind. Dont be.
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