Poll: Naming – Symbian Belle, Nokia Belle or something else? (and a little rant)

| December 22, 2011 | 32 Replies

Yesterday the discussion was mostly about Nokia’s delivery times for updates. Now let’s look at that oh so subtle change of the legend of a name that was Symbian – the first to bring smartphone to the masses which now has been quietly dropped in line for the Nokia brand, Nokia Belle.

It’s been almost a day, how are you liking it? Should Nokia have stuck with Nokia Belle or kept Symbian Belle? Maybe some other name?

[polldaddy poll=5782193]



It was for a time, really great with the various UIs from other manufacturers. Nokia went full on flooding the market with brilliant S60 (Series 60) phones but never really understood how to get S60 on touch without looking like a disaster of S60 just plastered on a touch screen. I remember seeing the first ever demo, knowing what to expect from iPhone and just feeling such an anticlimax.

It got worse as Android started picking up and was also beginning to improve usability on the touch screen. In the mean time we were stuck with S60 5th whilst Symbian floundered wasting time trying to make itself open source. Whilst no real development occurred, the wider public became used to simplicity, fluidity and stability. This meant that all of Symbian’s riches were being overlooked. It was no longer about features X,Y,Z but how easy it is, how quickly and reliable it was to perform A, B or C.

Over time as Nokia failed to maintain Symbian to the standard it needed to be usability wise, Symbian was and had lost the respect of some of the major tech blogs. Many as you know often making snide jabs and constant put downs before even having tried the device. Many comments from youtube immediately ignorant to the new S^3 basing it on either poor experience with S^1/S60 5th/S60 or not even that at all, but the hearsay of the tainted Symbian name.

I’ve seen a few comments, some Symbian fans saying it’s hard to accept that now Symbian is associated with a fail. Particularly now that even Nokia’s CEO has deemed it so and is moving to a different platform (though still continuing to improve and support it, making sure it’s not stuck on S^3 but has gone from Anna, Belle and will continue to Carla and Donna).

So is it a good thing to change the name, the tainted brand of Symbian so that no preconceived notions and wrong assumptions are made before trying out Symbian Belle. Belle is indeed correctly beautiful, addressing many of the usability concerns and as many have put making the phone feel new. Some saying they can’t look back to Anna at all.


What they need then is just a chance for the consumer to try it out. Not be swayed by the iPhone brand or the now almost equally as popular Android (brand wise). Yes, Belle should have been on the N8 since launch. Really it should have been there from 2009 at the latest given that we already had something so inconceivably amazing in the Nokia N900 with Maemo 5. I don’t want to digress to much into the brilliance of that little thing as I could go on forever, but i just remembered one comment by a reader reminding us of how it came about that it was about internal politics killing Maemo. It was the sheer strength of Symbian at Nokia that supposedly prevented the brilliance of Maemo from taking over when it should have done, prevented it from developing at the pace it could have done. If you were ever lucky enough to use a N900 you would know why we are all so passionate about it. It renewed a lot of faiths to see just how brilliant Nokia could be. I tweeted this last night – it sums up what I could but won’t write in several walls of text

I miss Maemo 5. Imagine if it received the same love Symbian did. Imagine if it did not get diverted to MeeGo. Maemo would rule the world.

As a Nokia fan, it pains me that we had waited so long and the solution for total dominance was there (Maemo at high end, Symbian crushing Android before it even got a foothold of mid). Positively received software, the hardware was powerful, the only niggles were some things that could have easily been ironed out and that it was fat. Just that. We would never have needed to go Windows Phone, we would still have many great Symbian phones but then many more and even more amazing Maemo 6 and Maemo 7 phones. Apps, well, Nokia just needed the right consistent platform to build on. The maemo community would always be there, but then they could have done similar projects, many many give aways, even buy developers, spend a few billion just getting developers. Why not, they did have sufficient cash then.

They played the game much too safe, bet too much on Symbian instead of taking the risk with the incredible Maemo and now here we are. Symbian name is no longer on the table.


Category: Maemo, Nokia, Poll, Rant, Symbian

About the Author ()

Hey, thanks for reading my post. My name is Jay and I'm a medical student at the University of Manchester. When I can, I blog here at and tweet now and again @jaymontano. We also have a twitter and facebook accounts @mynokiablog and Check out the tips, guides and rules for commenting >>click<< Contact us at tips(@) or email me directly on jay[at]
  • Peter

    Nokia has already told the world they will be quiting with Symbian. Changing the name now is useless imo. Nokia could have changed the name to Nokia Anna back in the day, but now? Too late.
    It won’t harm them either I guess… They should stop changing names of OS’s and productnames, and focus. The focus is WP7 now and I love Nokoia is still commiting to Symbian/ Nokia Belle (I own N8) but changing the name again is not what I want to see.
    Btw Jay,If you get you N8 working again or a replacement, you should defanetly try the leaked Belle!

  • Rupesh

    It makes me sad that its the end of symbian although it died in feb but i think its a great move by nokia because the symbians brand image is very poor regardless of anything else so it makes sense to make people feel that nokia belle is something new !!

    • dr_zorg

      But it’s such a great name. Symbian flies off the tongue. Belle sounds like a cheap hooker.

      • j

        well symbian sounds old. like pascal etc..
        i don’t know why but i feel so.

  • Rupesh

    They didnt name nokia anna because it was still the same old symbian …while belle is refreshing, something new so it makes perfect sense !!

  • et3rnal

    Nokia changes the UI name ppl! symbian will remain symbian understand???

    This will give more possibilities to see bell (or carla) on somewhere else (Meltimme) as its going Qt 🙂

    Soon there will be 1 Nokia OS instead of 3+ (Symbian, Linux, S40). All based on Linux kernal and uses Qt 😀 yay

  • incognito

    While I do agree that Symbian now has a somewhat unjustified baggage of bad press and hate, and a name change could certainly help in that department, I’m not quite sure that re-branding it to simply ‘Nokia’ would help it alleviate some of that bad ‘hype’.

    The thing is, plenty of bloggers, journalists and other tech reporters, especially uninformed ones, have been calling the s40 series `Nokia OS` for quite some time. And I’m afraid plenty of people might perceive a line in tech specifications ‘OS: Nokia Belle’ as a featurephone.

    • Marc Aurel

      There is nothing wrong in calling Series 40 phones ‘Nokia OS’, since that is the official Nokia name for the embedded OS behind the Series 40 and Series 30 platforms. If you don’t believe me, just look at the official developer specs of the Asha 303:

      Under ‘Operating System” it says ‘Nokia OS’. This is similar to how the S60 was just a name of the UI for certain class of Symbian phones. Once upon a time there were many different UI’s for Symbian phones (Series 80, Series 90 and UIQ), and in Japan there are still Symbian phones available which do not run a Nokia developed UI.

      Back to main topic: I think this is a good change, since in the main markets for Nokia Symbian phones (Indian, China, MEA and SEA) the Nokia brand is still positive or at least neutral, whereas Symbian was never known as a brand any better than in Europe. Even in Europe the name change may help the marketing of Symbian phones a little bit.

      • N00-00

        +1. Agree.

  • CreMindES

    First of all, tt’s always good to read a clear and agreeable article here. Thanks for is.

    Yeah, it’s sure, it was a clear mistake, first not letting Maemo that it could be, and then dealing with M$, instead of pushing MeeGo (nor saying good bye to Intel…).

    And they make a huge and more complex mistake with Symbian, not developing it fast enough, not pushing Qt fast enough (Nokia’s reletaionship with and Trolltech is still a mess for me) and if you think a little, you see it clearly, they had to change the way of developing only a bit, and they could deliver the updates in time. And now they could have two great platforms… Symbian for lowend-middle and Maemo/Meego for middle-highend.

    But this is history and we are sad… the only good thing that MeeGo make it’s way to the reality and we have the hope that it coulbe maybe some day…

  • JD!

    I guess Symbian is not dyeing anymore.

    At least change of name signals in that direction imo.

    I guess Nokia will go with 2 OS approach.
    One is Windows
    Second is Nokia OS(Symbian / Meego)

    Lets wait and watch!

  • said laabed

    my peace upon you : i want to give one advise to my dear nokia ( all in one ) apply it and you will see. ?

  • Heron

    Nokia OS sounds about right IMO. The Symbian name is now so trampled upon that it is associated with failure.

    I mean, even my business lecturer was dissing Symbian and Nokia for how Apple made iOS a powerful player, and how Google leaped over too.

    Belle could have come out earlier. But I doubt Nokia had that in mind before Elop. And after Elop, Android and iOS was too far ahead of the ecosystem game, and Nokia even more fragmented than the Android mess(S^1, S^3, S40, Maemo, MeeGo vs what is technically still Android). A clean slate would have done well, and Nokia found that in WP7.

    Does that mean I agree with the current strategy? Not really. I will believe that, even if Nokia did go WP7, it can force inside WP7 the Qt framework (after all, MS needs Nokia more than Nokia needs MS). This will allow for ease of portability to the WP7 platform, and will result in Symbian and even Harmattan being able to leverage on the Qt apps as well, making a complete game changer. Now Nokia is reliant on WP7 developer tools which can be a double-edged sword.

    We will see what Nokia will bring next year, but all I can say is, they need a lot of willpower to get this done right.

    • Jay Montano

      The official answer is something along the lines of confusing developers. Or something like that.

      I’m all for Qt on WP as long as there are no detrimental effects on it (app stability, quality of apps, consistency of app design). It would greatly help Nokia bring Qt everywhere.

      W8 will have Qt apps.

      • incognito

        Unfortunately, I don’t think Microsoft will allow that, at least not until they plan not to allow native execution on the WP.

        .NET and Qt are essentially doing the same thing, with a different approach. Qt strives to create libraries for different platforms with native execution, and then to compile your app for a specific platform linked to its libraries in order to achieve optimum performance on any given hardware. .NET uses Java-ish approach with compiling to fast bytecode and then using JIT interpreters to execute at the expense of wasted resources, but with the advantage of no need for recompilation. Those are fundamentally different approaches (and, for the record, Qt’s approach is much better when it comes to limited hardware and battery operated devices) that cannot really be reconciled.

        Sure, one could rewrite the whole of Qt stack for .NET (there are some unofficial bindings for Mono) and make users utilize Qt from within .NET environment, but it would be a moot point – you wouldn’t be getting the advantage (apart from, maybe, the UI layouting) of Qt with that approach because you would still not be able to recompile the apps for Symbian/Maemo/MeeGo (+ all the others supported).

        Not to mention that I don’t think Microsoft would look lightly on the whole thing in the first place – they want to tie in developers into their ‘ecosystem’ (remember the ‘Developers, developers, developers!’) and having developers flirting with other platforms, and godforbid other development tools, would not work to Microsoft’s advantage.

        • Bloob

          This is sadly the truth. Qt for WP will never happen. Well, unless WP9 and W9 will be one and the same.

  • Rebbe

    Nokia has talked alot about simplifying the experiece… it is not so much about the specs and the name of the os it is about the whole experience.

    I think this is a step in the right direction. Give the os a name that the consumer understands like “swipe” for n9 and Belle for the beautiful os Symbian Belle. 🙂
    I hope that Nokia also rebrands its own Apollo version of Windows Phone. Windows is a strong brand but I think Nokia Windows Phone deserves a simpler and better name!

  • stylinred

    guess they’re plannning on keeping symbian? and they dont want people to go “hey wth symbian is dead though whats it still doing here”

    i guess it makes sense to cut the name out in that regard but whatever its no big deal imo

    as for Maemo5 i agree…. Nokia has made so many mistakes and i think not pushing Maemo is probably the largest

  • bernardo

    isto vai ser confuso para os vendedores

  • lordstar

    I read in all about symbian that Nokia is still recognizing the Symbian platform and its name as an os. What has changed is the naming scheme for the ui. So to be more specific, the new belle devices such as the nokia 700,701 and 603 are symbian smartphones running the nokia belle interface.. Double check aas to be sure though.

    Voted for the Nokia belle name change. Symbian has been associated with its bad ui and laggy experience. Nokia renaming the ui from symbian belle to nokia belle will make people somehow change their perspective on the new belle interface while still being able to highlight the positive and wide array of features of symbian.

  • hosny santos

    if nkia belle wiil be used ,how will call carla e donna in future? belle 1. belle 2 belle3?

    • lordstar

      Nokia Carla, Nokia Donna i believe. And since it seems that nokia is rebranding symbian, a little mascot or new symbol/image could help. Android with the robot, apple with well…. apple, that sort of stuff. What do you guys think? It would at least make symbian fresh and appeal to the market once more.

  • Yemi

    Its a definite plus to change the name to Belle. I have three reasons:
    1. It is a refreshing new UI and when belle begins to trend on google search, it wont carry along the bad rep symbian has with the bad reviews.
    2. It allows for anticipating the next version and brings an identity to different versions of the OS.
    3. It lays the foundation for the next disruption. I can see Nokia merging newer versions of belle, carla, Donna, Elizabeth(I made this up) with N9 OS(notice I didnt say MeeGo cos it carries a dead name) and continue the trend. QT makes this route possible.

  • ajmal

    What about ‘Death Belle’

  • jcar302

    Nokia clearly doesn’t think through the changes they make.

    One of the reasons people gravitate towards android is that it sounds like fun and they have their little robot guy as a mascot. I know that sounds stupid, but when it comes to phone OS’s, people judge the book by it’s cover.
    Symbian and android aren’t really that different at this point, but the average guy would certainly take android over symbian.

    My point is, belle sucks too as a name.
    It’s also associated with “symbian belle” so they aren’t fooling anyone.

    Honestly they should have made the name unique and suggested the OS is unique too.
    Instead, it’s really just an update with a new name.

    Since the day i bought my n900 i’ve never had any interest in symbian again, considering the n9 is a dead end (while i love my n900, not doing that twice in a row with an n9), i’m ready ready to try windows.

  • Joe

    whatever Belle Anna Donna or Carla
    They are still symbian^3 based os
    Is nokia made us intepret wrong
    actually this correction is a must
    (all nokia customer and some of the nokia employees were being wrong intepreted by nokia)
    …but too late to correct!!

    on the other hand,”nokia belle” this name is a bit ordinary…not so eye-catching

  • Joe

    why don’t use PR3.0…PR4.0…PR5.0
    “nokia belle” will also make other people intepret as another new os but not intepret as new UI.
    nokia , you makes us so annoyed…
    why you make symbian so rubbish?
    the only bad points of symbian is difficult to develop a quality apps as linux os (android iOS )
    but you add 3 cons to symbian
    1. bad UI —->starts to correct in 2011
    2. bad(rubbish)hardware config. —>still
    3. laggy due to the bad HW config.

  • Tak

    Nokia Belle. Those who like Symbian knows, that its Symbian, but some of those who don’t like Symbian might give it a chance.

    Belle also sounds beautiful and non-technical.

  • Arbegla

    I think this a matter of solidifying the brand instead of a platform. This is exactly what Nokia needs. Due to previous missteps the Nokia brand has suffered a lot, therefore, it is wise to focus on the brand and not so much on the OS. It will take the confusion out of different OSes (4 at this point) and will align Nokia’s product portfolio. Symbian is very much alive (though soon to be dead) but this isn’t about Symbian anymore. It is about Nokia. I agree with Jay, this should have been done when S60V5 (Symbian^1/Touch) came along. Oh well, better late than never.

  • reptile

    I’d prefer them to use food names (Basil, Cumin, Dill) 😀

  • N9 User

    It’s a good decision to drop Symbian. As you mentioned, today Symbian means failure in people’s minds.

  • Abhishek

    symbian bugs shôuld be kept gor belle