Several readers pointed out that in my discussion on the market share of modular vs. inter-dependent market shares for smartphones, Nokia was incorrectly classified as having an inter-dependent software architecture since the Symbian platform is/was a modular component.
The problem is that the relationship between Symbian and Nokia is not that of independent modules. Nominally, the two are independent and mutually exclusive, but, in practice, Symbian has always been so heavily dependent and influenced by Nokia that it’s never been possible to declare its governance fully independent.
ZDNet reports Sony Ericsson are abandoning Symbian for Android, and Samsung headed down the Android and Bada road a while back. There are precious few device manufacturers remaining as foundation members, e.g. ZTE, Sharp and Compal, none of whom are exactly trend-setting industry leaders.
via The Symbian open source experiment has failed [Gartner].
I was going to ask what happened to ‘Open always wins?’ but decided against it.
What I will say is that open sourcing Symbian was not a new beginning for the platform but the beginning of the end. I don’t think anybody seriously considered it a viable multi-vendor platform, least of all Nokia.
Following up on survey data showing that up to 25 percent of Americans have moved to smartphones, here is another survey (Comscore) which shows that US smartphone users are at about 23 percent.
Comscore also surveyed European countries, and we can compare the popularity of smartphones vs. the US.
I also indexed the share to population to show the relative populations of smartphone users across these countries.
It may come as a surprise to some that smartphones are more popular in the UK, Spain and Italy than in the US. Considering that these are countries with lower levels of disposable income, and that in Italy and Spain pre-paid plans are overwhelmingly more popular. Buyers in those countries are much more likely to pay full, unsubsidized prices plus 20% or more VAT. Overall the price differential for an Italian buying a smartphone vs. an American is likely to be a factor of 5. It gets even more peculiar when you consider that many Italians have more than one phone, with overall phone line penetration above 100%.
The explanation for this remarkable appetite for smartphone goodness is the early lead that Symbian had in Europe. Buyers who entered the phone market ten years ago became accustomed to upgrading their Nokia phones. Symbian phones were aspirationally positioned as feature-rich camera and messaging devices. Many were also purchased without data plans and were thus used as high-end feature phones. In other words, consumers in those countries were comfortable paying full price for unlocked Nokia devices and using them with multiple SIM cards.
This can be seen in the share of Symbian in these charts:
The data points to how normative behavior evolved and how different that can be even among culturally aligned Western nations. When looking at Asia and South America, it gets even more interesting.
Whereas in Europe it was Symbian, in the US RIM got the ball rolling.
The contribution of these platforms in shaping expectations, not to mention pricing, for the iPhone and Android should be noted.
In June 2008, Nokia made its first big move to turn around the platform, and announced that it was acquiring Symbian, with the intent of turning the OS into an open source project.
Two years later, the move to open source has proved to be a miscalculation that is slowing down Symbian’s development. It would be better for Nokia to take full control of the OS, according to Wood. A lack of support from other vendors means Nokia has to do most of the work itself, while the open nature of the platform allows competitors to keep a close eye on its progress.
via Nokia on long comeback trail after smartphone misses – Digital Lifestyle – Macworld UK.
Then there’s LiMo foundation open source mobile Linux. Maemo is/was open source, Openmoko and Qt Extended and PalmSource/Access moving to open source and there was the Motorola Linux OS that launched years ago. If Open always wins, whatever it wins, it’s not market share.