And then there was one. Sony Ericsson to stop making Symbian phones

Sony Ericsson is to stop making smartphones featuring Nokia’s Symbian operating system.

The move means that the troubled Finnish mobile maker is likely to be the only significant user of Symbian.

Analysts said Sony Ericsson’s decision confirmed the “failure” of Symbian as an open source platform, given that it was supposed to be used by several large mobile makers.

via / Technology – Sony Ericsson to stop using Symbian system.

While Android and Windows Phone continue with a licensing model, the list of abandoned licensed mobile operating systems grows:

  • First there was the original PalmOS/Garnet OS (from Access), licensed in its day by several vendors including Samsung.
  • Then came SavaJe that was dead on arrival.
  • Then there was Windows Mobile with over a thousand devices and hundreds of licensees. Now a fading memory.
  • There’s LiMo, licensed by operators but not not seen in the wild.
  • And now the mighty Symbian is standing with no takers (except its own parent).

Note that MeeGo, WebOS, BlackBerry OS and Bada are not licensed.

In 2010, as Windows Phone is not yet shipping, it’s clear that for any vendor without their own operating system, Android has been the only choice.

The question I have is: how long before every top tier vendor has their own OS?

  • Why would every top tier vendor have their own OS? That sounds like suicide. With Android available for any manufacturer to gobble up and manipulate as desired and then now Windows Phone 7 or whatever they like to call 'windows mobile' now-adays, it seems stupid to put R&D into making their own OS. Even though there are only 'two' licensable OS's, they are both strong and can handle the workload from every vendor.

    And then there's iOS and Apple, sitting at the top branch of the tree watching everyone below them fight each other over 'specs' and 'price'

    • asymco

      Investment in R&D is not without pain and without risk, but the alternative is to be an unprofitable component assembler at the mercy of a software supplier. Pick your poison. HP, Nokia, Samsung (Bada), RIM own their OS. Motorola, Sony Ericsson, LG, Dell, HTC license. Let's see how things develop.

      • The advantage of using Android is that while you can 'Go your own way' with HTC Sense, Moto Blur etc. they also have the advantage of a large App market.

        Windows Phone 7 has no App market yet, the Ovi store is a joke and Blackberry's App World is even worse.

        Tomorrows smartphones will win and lose on the software available.

      • Billy

        "the Ovi store is a joke"

        When did you actually try the most recent version of Ovi Store yourself, or are you just repeating what you learned from engadget?

        Ovi Store v2.0 is significantly improved over the previous version, and no offers features such as in-app payment and operator billing that other app stores – including Apple – do not. Although Ovi Store is not perfect it's now far from a joke.

      • airmanchairman

        Minor (or is it) point of correction.

        The iOS App Store DOES have in-app payment capability, well used by its developers.

  • Joel Bernstein

    "The question I have is: how long before every top tier vendor has their own OS?"

    Given the accelerating fragmentation of the Android platform, the answer might end up being "yesterday".

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  • Billy

    "Analysts said Sony Ericsson’s decision confirmed the “failure” of Symbian as an open source platform"

    Or is this the failure of Sony Ericsson to offer anything but uninspiring devices based on third-party operating systems?

    SE may have had a rough deal using Symbian with Nokia pulling most of the strings in the past, but SE failed to deliver any real added value to the platform and when they almost did – with the P900 etc. – they subsequently blew it.

    With Android they're reduced to being nothing more than a me-too vendor that will be eaten alive eventually. This decision IMHO is really about SE focusing on a single platform as they're not capable of supporting any more, a dramatic sign of how the once mighty have fallen.

    It's a shame they've had to make this decision, but more of a pity for SE than Symbian. It would be great to see other vendors support and offer Symbian devices alongside Nokia, but if that doesn't happen then Nokia are more than capable of going it alone, or with just the Japanese vendors.

    • Billy

      Actually, an addition to the above – SE are also intending to support WP7 in addition to Android, no doubt a tactic intended to stave off any possible patent litigation from MS over Android usage. My point still stands however, that SE don't have the resources to support multiple platforms, particularly any platform that requires a modicum of intellectual investment as is the case with Symbian.

  • Totally agree with Billy here.

    Sony Ericsson have the media assets, the gaming assets and they had UIQ – the best UI prior to the iPhone. How on earth can the blow it that badly such that they're left sticking somebody else's OS on their now quite awful plasticky hardware?

  • Nokia has bigger problems than "Symbian fails as an open source platform".

    My view of the world – all major handset makers (with the exception of Apple) will support 2 or more mobile OS platforms.
    A good example is Samsung with Bada and Android and considering WP7.

    Even Nokia must be considering building handsets with other than Symbian OS.

    I would suggest a Nokia-Microsoft alliance targeted against Rim.
    Both Nokia and Microsoft are desperate for positive momentum. This is one way to get it.


    • THa

      Hmm.. Nokia is developing the Meego. It will be their other OS. I'm pretty sure that Nokia won't use the WP7 (or Android) because they will have the Meego which is supposed to be much more advanced OS than WP7. I assume that the high-end Nokia smartphones will be running on Meego from next year on and Symbian^3 and Symbian^4 will be the low-end OS for cheaper Nokia phones.

      I just wonder how good the Symbian^4 will actually be. Symbian^3 is nearly there when you compare it to Android. There is still some clumsiness here and there but it's nearly there. If the Symbian^4 will be really good and competitive then I can't really imagine what kind of wonder machine the Meego will be because it should really stand out somehow. There is no point doing two equal OS for mobile devices. It's going to be interesting to see.

  • Sony-Ericsson supporting WP7?

    Yes, its is a good way to avoid getting sued by Microsoft.
    Plus supporting WP7 & Android is better option than Symbian, since neither MS or GOOG build phones, plus SE can play one off against the other.

    Also, WP7 may give Sony-Ericsson is viable smartphone for business users.


  • What happens to all those 2014 predictions with Symbian having a 30% market share? It looks very unlikely with all these developments, i.e. Samsung and now Sony dropping Symbian, and Meego devices launching next year according to Intel.

  • kwyjibo

    The question I have is: how long before every top tier vendor has their own OS?

    The answer I have is: an infinite amount of time.

    • asymco

      You do realize that out of ten vendors, five already have their own OS (Nokia, RIM, Apple, Samsung, HP) and only LG, Sony Ericsson, HTC and Motorola don't. You also should realize that Motorola tried more than once to build its own and to acquire their own, so they clearly have the intent. You must also realize that Sony Ericsson came very close with UIQ and is only resource constrained from doing it again. Then that HTC spent a great deal to develop the Sense UI which has its own APIs and covers most of what's on top of the OS. That leaves only LG without a history of platform development. They have been slow to the whole smartphone market but once they scale up, I think your comment will seem short-sighted.

  • just saying

    MeeGo is not licensed because no license is needed to use it, it being open source.

    • asymco

      By licensed I mean taken into use as a platform by more than the orchestrating vendor. I may be wrong, but I think only Nokia is using it now, though Intel has been helping and we may see tablets using it in the future. As a phone OS, the future is not so clear. Would like to hear more.