As a mobile device platform, Symbian has been around for years. Although it has been through several name changes and ownership revolutions, it remains by far the dominant platform for the smart phone market in the world.
About 46 percent of the mobile phones in the world operate on the Symbian platform, but most of them are in Europe and the Middle East. However, Symbian is making strides to close the gap in the U.S. and Japan.
Why this matters to you as a developer or a business interested in reaching Symbian customers is that in 2008, Nokia bought all the shares of Symbian that it didn’t already own and announced that it will become an open source platform, like other mobile platforms. This means that anyone will be able to develop applications for the Symbian-based phones.
Although you may think Symbian will be a late comer to the mobile apps market, it would be unwise to count them out. The platform has been around for years, they have a loyal customer base for the Nokia phones, and technology is a fickle thing.
When the iPhone was first released, it was perfection embodied. There was not a criticism to be had. But when Palm released the Pre, suddenly the iPhone seemed stodgy and lacking – what? No cut and paste on an iPhone? How passé.
So all it will take is for Symbian to come out with some great innovations that capture the imaginations of the population, and they can take hold of a significant portion of the market quickly.
With Symbian phones already in the hands of millions of mobile customers around the world – nearly half the mobile device users – developers and businesses would do well to watch the Symbian development as well.
As they go open source completely in the coming months, a huge potential market opens up for anyone ready to jump in and be an early adopter of the platform, the possibilities are endless.
And with a completely different philosophy governing the marketing of the soon-to-come applications, developers may find in Symbian a more open and accessible wireless application partner.