What killed Nokia’s Symbian mobile Operating System?


The genesis of Nokia smartphones was a big boom especially in the developing nations, with robust and timeless dumb phones like the Nokia 3310 that made it big in the late 90s with the advent of GSM networks. The rise in data usage in Africa especially on GPRS data networks lead to the smartphone revolution and Nokia was among the first to deep their feet with the Symbian smartphone line up that popularized the Nokia N95. Nokia has always been Symbian’s biggest supporter. The company
produced millions of phones running the OS, and the two have always had close ties. In Africa and the world over, together they dominated the cell phone market throughout the
early 2000s; in fact, Symbian remained the top-selling smartphone OS worldwide until late 2010.


Android and iOS dominated

By 2008 we saw a deep in sales of the mobile OS, that abrupt reversal of fortune was due to a couple of factors: First, the rise of Android and iOS as the dominant phone OSes, sought-after by consumers who dropped simplistic handsets in favor of smartphones. Although some may argue, the other reason was ,
Nokia’s fateful 2011 decision to  jump into bed with Microsoft and the Windows Phone OS with the coming of Stephen Ellop Nokia’s current CEO.
Let recall at that point Nokia was the only remaining Symbian backer as other OEMs like Sony (back then known as Sony Ericsson) has jumped onto the Android bandwagon. It was inevitable for Nokia to say goodbye to the OS, and the writing was on the wall for what would happen next.

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Today, Symbian is actually maintained by Accenture, a management consulting company, to which Nokia outsourced development (and shipped off thousands of employees) in 2011. Accenture is supposed
to maintain the OS through 2016.

The Nokia N95

So, what technically killed Symbian?

The company has always blamed Symbian’s difficult and unfriendly code structure for the extended time it takes for a phone using that OS to be developed. So reports say that that a typical Symbian handset required 22 months of development time, compared to less than a year with Windows Phone. In today’s environment,  with the likes of Samsung launching an Android device  every month its completely uncompetitive and markets are lost in a matter of weeks, that just won’t fly for Nokia.

For businesses with large deployments of Symbian smartphones, there is plenty of time to decide whether you want to jump to Android, iOS, Windows Phone, or—dare we suggest it—BlackBerry. (The smart money seems to be on moving to Android.) 2013 will mark the year when Nokia officially shipped their last Symbian device and it’s withdrawal from the platform means Symbian is now completely defunct.

Do you still use a Symbian based device? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment below.