Symbian not Dead Yet, But MeeGo is Nokia’s Smartphone Choice

by Matt Klassen on December 6, 2010

After months of waiting in limbo, a victim of an uncertain future, Nokia has finally decided the fate of Symbian.

Amidst recent speculation that Nokia was looking to scuttle or perhaps sell the struggling mobile operating system, it looks instead like Symbian is putting its work boots on, as it has been officially designated as the operating system for the company’s line of business-oriented devices.

While many had long written off Symbian as an antiquated relic of the mobile market, Nokia has surprisingly decided not to replace it with the upstart mobile OS MeeGo, but in unprecedented fashion, has decided to support both operating systems simultaneously. For its part, MeeGo will gain the distinction of becoming Nokia’s flagship operating system, appearing in all the company’s forthcoming consumer-oriented smartphones, with all the workman-like duties of the enterprise market still falling to the incumbent Symbian.

But with Symbian now clearly the second string choice amongst Nokia operating systems, will the enterprise market be enough to keep the unwanted OS afloat?

With the announcement of the two mobile operating systems diverging in a yellow wood, Nokia has clearly rewritten the roadmap for its mobile operating systems, hoping to capitalize on MeeGo’s innovative and intuitive user interface to recapture—or perhaps just capture—some of the lucrative global smartphone market.

It’s been no secret that while Nokia phones are ludicrously popular the world over, the Finnish company has never been able to break into the higher class smartphone market. That is to say, Nokia can certainly make phones that the average Bedouin nomad would want to use while trekking his camels across the Jordanian desert, but they simply haven’t found a way of appealing to a wealthier class of people; the ones that buy phones with money…instead of camels.

But why keep Symbian alive if MeeGo is clearly the company’s number one choice? The answer is simple, even as an antiquated and forgotten OS, Symbian can make Nokia some money. The reason to keep Symbian around really revolves around the enterprise demographic, the users who have trusted Symbian phones to meet their mobile business needs. You see, if there’s one thing the enterprise market doesn’t really want, its over-innovation, meaning that they want a mobile OS that works, and they don’t want Nokia to screw it up with future upgrades.

For Nokia such a simple and straightforward set of business needs means that maintaining Symbian has suddenly become dirt cheap, as future iterations of the mobile operating system will sport incremental upgrades, without the need for Nokia to dedicate significant R&D resources for major improvements.

As for MeeGo, the mobile OS is clearly more versatile than its uglier Symbian cousin, crafted for use in the entire gamut of mobile devices; from smartphones to tablets and laptops. The only question now becomes, what of those poor unfortunate souls that bought Nokia’s N8 when it hit stores, are they now doomed to be the only fools holding a consumer-oriented Symbian smartphone?

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