Visualising a quarter of a billion Symbian users – more than Android and iOS smartphones combined.

| February 21, 2011 | 11 Replies

Horace Dediu has just written an article titled:

Platform sunk (cost): What is the value of a quarter billion Symbian users?


Symbian has taken a lot of flack since the coming of iPhone and the rampant growth of Android. Often touted as dead, dying, in trouble, you’d think no one bought Symbian phones anymore. You’d never think they were for such a long time, the undisputed number one mobile OS. Most recently, the blogosphere and even terrestrial TV has been reporting the expulsion of Symbian from the throne (though Gartner’s numbers paint a different picture to that from Canalys, saying for now, Symbian was still number one). Even if it were in number two, is that such a bad thing?

Another thing to consider is the actual number of Symbian users. That’s demonstrated by the first graph; this only accounts for Symbian phones from 2007 onwards. That’s more than Android and iOS smartphones combined.It’s quite an eye opener once you look at it this way. Something else to check out is the second graph showing approximate number of users of these smartphones. Symbian again is the largest (not counting any phones older than 2.5years old).

smartphones only. Not including tablets/mp3 players

Dediu notes:

“What’s interesting is that of these installed bases, the largest is the one that’s just been abandoned, and the smallest was chosen as its replacement.”

Though there may be 45m WinMo users, there’s possibly only about 1M in actual install base (different to the 2m “shipped number, which, though is low, we should remember is just from October 2010 – how much did Android sell in it’s first 6 months?)

Dediu concludes:

The disposal of such a large installed base must count among the largest divestitures in technology history and, when coupled with the adoption of the least-tested alternative as a replacement, elevates platform risk-taking to a new level. It may seem bold, but there is a fine line between courage and recklessness.

Nokia didn’t just include Microsoft’s Windows Phone into their OS arsenal, they pretty much disposed of Symbian and MeeGo by saying their primary smartphone focus is Windows Phone. As Elop said, Nokia has put a massive bet on Microsoft. It is one of the biggest gambles Nokia may have ever made. Lose everything or win big time – until we see Nokia’s execution of Windows Phones, we can’t really tell.

It may be worth considering that:

  • there is some fragmentation within those 200M Symbian users that doesn’t help a cohesive ecosystem. S60 3rd Edition, S60 5th, S^3. Though Qt was meant to rule them all (At least those with Qt enabled) it does mean that right now, you don’t have 100% app compatibility that you might be able to with Windows Phone.
  • “Too much resources” are going into the development of Symbian, which is still not at the stage of being considered “modern” or “on par” with its peers in terms of general appearance (in OS, functionality, it is ahead).
  • As such, the Symbian brand brings to mind “outdated, obsolete” in the blogosphere and mainstream media, despite reality.
  • Symbian is notoriously difficult to create native apps for. At least this is what developers said the issue was during early days of iPhone development. Qt was supposed to fix this, though many have expected more Qt apps (note – Symbian Qt phones that could take advantage of better hardware were only available from October – i.e. N8. Explosion of Qt was expected with MeeGo ecosystem as it gets picked up by several manufacturers).
  • Looking at Windows Phone apps, though there aren’t many, they all look really good (I may need to dig more to actually see the picture/proportion of quality apps). With the biggest software giant and the biggest mobile phone manufacturer, they might actually have the clout to create this “third ecosystem”. Perhaps we can finally get some medical apps category that @khouryrt has been begging Nokia for so long. Plus many of the other mainstream apps that just instantly go to iPhone and Android but not Symbian.

I guess I’d really need to create a separate posts on advantages/disadvantages of MS+Nok-Symbian-MeeGo. But I’ll leave that for another day when I’m not meant to be finishing things due 9am later today :p.

via asymco


Category: Nokia, Symbian

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