I’m a big fan of Symbian but it has let me down lately. Nick Jones from Gartner said it perfectly, it’s like Symbian is “re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titatic”. The Symbian ship is sailing towards its inevitable demise. The foundation is focusing on the wrong issues, they need to focus on the UI and the user experience. While the mobile UIs are about the same(as highlighted by Ewan Spence), there are some distinguishing and innovative elements that set them apart. Apple, with iOS, has gone for an elegant and simple UI which consists of a grid of scrollable icons that lead to apps. Windows, with Windows Phone 7, has gone for an equally simple design with ‘hubs’ forming the center of the experience. Symbian continues to focus on expanding features – support for HDMI, higher res cameras, elegant architecture, openness, engaging developers etc.
All that may not be a bad thing, but they are concentrating on things that do not directly affect the consumer, neglecting the things that do. At this point in time, it’s all about the experience. If it wasn’t about the experience and more about features, devices like the iPhone never would have succeeded. What companies like Apple and Google did, was focus on the experience first – get people to fall in love with the product, buy it, and fall in love with it all over again – then beef up the features later. As it stands, Symbian/Nokia are behind in both the features and the experience. They are playing catch up now – the tables have turned. Just a few years ago, it was Apple trying to catch up to the Symbian software and Nokia hardware, Android devices and Android were no match for Symbian devices (Google G1 + Android 1.o anyone?). Everything has changed and Nokia and Symbian are locked in a downward spiral. The days of Nokia being the mobile supreme are numbered. Symbian was so weak in the smartphone arena that the iPhone and Android devices took over almost as soon as they stepped into the game. It was like taking candy from a baby.
There could be light at the end of the tunnel though. I remember Palm was on the way out when they released WebOS and the Palm Pre. Then again, they are gone now anyway, but it goes to show that with some massive innovation and re-thinking everything from the ground up, Nokia/Symbian can make a comeback. Until it does, it’s safe to say that the Samsung i8910 is the last Symbian device for me. I never say never though. Never ;-P.