During the Nokia Developer Summit 2009 in April, I have the opportunity to meet and chat with Lee Williams, the executive director of Symbian Foundation and Anatolie Papas, the online presence & community matchmaker. In the midst of our conversation, I told them that I will be heading to London in July. They suggested that I should pop by and take a look at the Symbian Foundation. Last Monday, I took a trip to the Symbian Foundation which is located near the Southwark tube station in central London. Although Lee was not around, Anatolie took the time to organize a meeting for me to catch up with Chris Davidson (Technology Management) and David Wood (Catalyst & Futurist, Leadership Team). Here are some of the interesting points for example, the Symbian roadmap and the new Horizon initiative that popped up during our discussion which I thought might be interested to those who are interested in Symbian development:
- The Symbian Roadmap: Chris went through a quick summary on how the Symbian roadmap is evolving from 2009 to 2011. It is important to note that Symbian is an open source operating system (which follows the Eclipse Public Licence in Open Source) based on the Symbian OS. Currently, the first stable release is Symbian^2. Symbian^2 will focus on customisable home screen supporting embedded gadgets and other content and provide the ability for the apps to take action in response to the user’s location from 2009-2010. On the other hand, Symbian^3 sets its milestones from 2010 to 2011 and will concentrate on graphics support for advanced layering and effects and high performance networking architecture enabling fixed internet performance (which are meant for streaming high definition videos and high quality voice over IP usages). Finally, Symbian^4 will focus on the touch user interface (UI), and will make it easier for developers to deal with the issue of hardware adaption with their apps and that is set around 2010 to 2011. You can read more about the roadmap here.
- Symbian Horizon to help developers distribute their app across different stores: Through our discussion of mobile-web applications across different platforms, Chris informed me about the Symbian Horizon program. It is created to solve an imperative problem faced by most Symbian developers on trying to get their applications published on app stores provided by various handset vendors or telco companies. The Symbian Horizon is an application-publishing platform that provides a service that allows developers to write an application once, and publish in dozens of stores worldwide (for example, the Ovi Store in Nokia and the AT&T MEdia Mall). This greatly reduce the problem for developers who have to submit their apps to many places and wait for approval. It will only require the developer to do it once, and benefits them in providing a platform that can distribute their apps quickly and simplify the administration required to obtain revenues for the app they submit to different app store. The platform will help them to gain increased visibility through their improved application discovery services, as well as co-marketing activities with OEMs and Carriers. The program is open to all companies, development firms, and developers worldwide, and it does not matter where the developer come from. The program is still in its early phase and if you are interested, you can sign up here. Also check out their FAQ for more information regarding the program.
On the whole, I have also shared with them about the current trends on mobile-web applications in Asia and particularly, from an investor view point, why it is not good for mobile-web developers to focus on one platform, for example, the iPhone OS. Given the erratic nature on how the iTunes Store approve apps for the iPhone, it is not wise for the developer to put all their eggs into one basket. I have also explained that it is also important to tell developers to look for the “blue oceans” in Symbian and Android space. I used the example of Gravity, a twitter application found only in Nokia Ovi Store and reaping profitability given very little competition in that space while many twitter clients are slugging it out on the iPhone. While talking about the trends on mobile-web applications, I also share with them what I am observing in the space of mobile social networks which will become more and more dominant in the coming year.
As for my meeting with David Wood, we ended up chatting about our past lives as theoretical physicists (given that we both came from the same university in UK). David was working on the foundations of quantum mechanics and have shared with me a book review he wrote on the book Schrodinger’s Rabbits by Colin Bruce. We ended joking about the many worlds interpretation in quantum theory in examining the different independent realities where one of the platforms (iPhone OS, Symbian, Android and Web OS) dominates in each worlds.
The visit to the Symbian Foundation in London has been fruitful with Anatolie introducing me a Singaporean contact involved in Symbian from Beijing and also possible opportunities for collaboration in the future.