Samsung drops developer support for Symbian

Nokia must change the way Symbian is developed if it is to catch up to the ease of use of iPhone and Android, analysts say

Samsung is dropping support for Symbian from its Mobile Innovator developer support program, it said in a letter sent out on Thursday. All Symbian developer activities at Mobile Innovator will end by Dec. 31, according to the letter.

Officially, Samsung has long maintained that it has a multiplatform strategy that includes Symbian, but the company hasn't announced a Symbian-based smartphone since February 2009.

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Instead, the world's second largest phone maker has chosen to push smartphones based on its own platform, Bada, as well as Android and Microsoft's upcoming Windows Phone 7.

Samsung is a very opportunistic company when it comes operating systems, according to Carolina Milanesi, a research vice president at Gartner: If a big operator such as Vodafone asked the company to manufacture a Symbian-based smartphone, it likely would, she said.

In light of Sony Ericsson's recent decision to drop Symbian, and Samsung's lack of interest in the platform, analysts are calling for Nokia to change the way Symbian is developed.

Back in July, Ben Wood, director of research at CCS Insight, said Nokia miscalculated in making the platform open source. A lack of support from other vendors means Nokia has to do most of the work itself, while the open nature of the platform allows competitors to keep a close eye on its progress, he said.

That sentiment is echoed by Milanesi: "Maybe Nokia doesn't want to take Symbian in-house, but it needs to take more control to speed up the development if it wants to catch up to the ease of use the iPhone and Android-based smartphones offer," she said.

Nokia is doing its best to drum up interest for the company's latest Symbian-based smartphone, the N8, the first device based on version 3 of Symbian, which this week finally started shipping.

Send news tips and comments to mikael_ricknas@idg.com.

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