I like rooting for the underdog, even if that underdog has an installed base of over 250 million. But when you’ve got competitors like Apple, Google & Blackberry, it’s easy to achieve underdog status.
Which is what makes the Symbian situation so interesting. Bought by Nokia in 2008 and spun out into a nonprofit foundation, Symbian has packaged its code in an open-source release and is counting on a confederation of scrappy, innovative developers and large handset manufacturers (Nokia & others) to hand with their iconic competitors. (The foundation’s blog is here.)
I haven’t taken a look at their code, but from other evidence I’d judge they’re off to a good start. The Symbian.org website is starkly different from the typical mobile web site. It features hand-drawn graphics and a friendly heart-shaped logo. Far from the technocratic, world-domination images of their competitors.
And that’s smart, in my eyes. Apple is here to stay, and Blackberry too. Google is late to the party, but too scary and smart to count out. So it would be easy for another competitor to fold the tent (or compete head-on, as Windows Mobile is doing unsuccessfully). Symbian’s employing a better competitive approach–embracing open source, at the edges and at the core, investing in community and otherwise using the Mozilla playbook. All good stuff and good for the mobile industry.
Now, when will I be able to get one of their phones in the US?