With most new Nokia phones in the past two years having been sold carrying the Microsoft Windows Phone operating system, the Finnish manufacturer have decided it is no longer worth the effort trying to compete with their own outdated platform Symbian, with the last-ever phones to run with that name behind it being shipped out this summer.
The move will be one which brings an end to an era started in 2001 with the operating system featuring on Nokia’s ’9210 Communicator’, and a platform which was for a long time one of the most dominant in the industry, however advancements in technology and the subsequent rise of smartphone operating systems (such as Google Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and BlackBerry OS) have pushed Symbian far out of the picture around the world, to the point where they control just 0.6% of the global market.
That figure (as well as the Q1 2013 statistic of causing just 5% of all Nokia smartphone sales) will reduce to nothing over the next few years as their devices get more and more outdated and outnumbered, but it will be a proud end for one of the world’s first major operating systems, despite there still being plenty of Symbian OS-based stock around the world that still needs to be sold before it is completely wiped from the unused market.
The last new device noted as using Symbian software was Nokia’s ’808 PureView’ smartphone in 2012, a device carrying a 41-megapixel camera with photography a key selling point, but sales figures did not match hopeful expectations for the device, with it instead retrospectively being seen as a development milestone between generations of better-selling products.
A Nokia spokesperson summarised their positive opinion on that poorly-selling device, stating: “This phone extended the platform’s pioneering tradition, and acted as a bridge for the next wave of innovation now seen in our latest models, like the Lumia 925.”
The Finnish company had previously given their reasons behind a switch to the ready-made operating system of Windows Phone, summarising: “It took 22 months to get a Symbian phone out of the door. With Windows Phone, it is less than a year. We spend less time having to tinker with deep-lying code and more time on crafting elements of the experience that make a big difference, such as around photography, maps and apps in general.”
Nokia have pledged to continue offering support for Symbian-based devices through to 2016, but after that date passes, a 15-year run in the mobile phone industry will have completely drawn to a close. While not quite on the level of an old high street store being pushed out of existence due to the dominance of bigger names, will Nokia Symbian’s passing draw any level of sentimental upset?