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Is Symbian a Sinking Ship?

While the U.S. maybe iPhone crazy, Symbian rules the air overseas. For years, Symbian has comfortably held the number one spot among smartphone operating systems, and the most recent report from Gartner reaffirms that. But rumors are swirling the Symbian’s days are numbered. Here are three signs that Symbian might be losing its spot as top dog of the smartphone world.

1. Android

Much of Symbian’s success comes from the fact that it’s an open source platform. That means less licensing fees for handset manufacturers who want to implement it into their phones, more app development and a thriving user community. Symbian’s open source offering allowed it to find its way on more smartphones than Research in Motion’s BlackBerry OS (which is only found on BlackBerry phones), Microsoft’s Windows Mobile and Apple’s iOS. But now, Google’s Android operating system is muddying the waters in the open source mobile platform game. In fact, Android shot up to the number 2 spot after being released in 2008. That’s definitely something to worry about for Symbian.

2. Windows Phone 7

Whereas the iPhone, and to some degree, Android phones, are considered more consumer-oriented, Symbian ruled the same space that BlackBerry and Windows Mobile occupied: the business world. Windows Mobile took up a large part of that share, in spite of its relative weakness as a smartphone platform. This was largely due to the fact that most PCs run Microsoft software, so the Windows Mobile OS became a logical smartphone choice, in spite of its flaws. But now, Microsoft has redoubled its efforts and has really knocked it out of the park with Windows Phone 7. WP7 may be a real contender, even to Android and BlackBerry. All of this spells more trouble for Symbian.

3. Nokia

Nokia, one of the biggest manufacturers of cell phones and smartphones across the globe, has long used Symbian in its handsets. In fact, Nokia’s preference for Symbian is likely responsible for much of the open source mobile operating system’s success. But rumors have emerged that Nokia is nearing a deal with Microsoft and the aforementioned Windows Phone 7 platform. Previously, the rumors were that Google was teaming up with Nokia, but now it appears that Microsoft is the one waiting in the wings. Either way, it looks like Symbian may be kicked to the curb—or, if not completely dumped, at least introduced to some competition among Nokia smartphones.


So, should you buy a Symbian phone? There’s no reason not to, especially if you like the platform. Symbian is overseen and supported by a consortium and an active user base, and even if it were a corporation, it’s in no danger of going belly up anytime soon. Symbian also remains a solid operating system and a forerunner for many of the features that we enjoy today.

But if you’re interested in switching to a new mobile operating system, but prefer the hardware provided by Nokia, you might want to wait a few weeks before making a purchase.