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If in my childhood Simba was the name of the king of the jungle, in my youth, it belonged to the kingdom of smartphones. That is the slang title of Symbian OS, which I consider the homeland of clever phones.

Many people still believe that doomsday did not happen in 2012. Wasn’t the closing of this OS supposed to be the end of a vast world? The world that electronics fans had admired for a generation. After all, it was the first successful operating system for mobile phones. Here quality software is combined harmoniously with the support of the legendary N-Gage platform.

In the first half of the 2000s, these machines were shockingly ahead of their time. And it was they that laid the most robust foundation for today’s iron generation, where the debate about who is better – iOS or Android – continues unabated.

So no matter how the smartphone industry develops today, we have to give credit to the time and the devices that set the trend in the popularization of the industry. After all, if these gadgets had not managed to win users’ sympathy, it is likely that today this sphere has not progressed as rapidly as it is actually. And that means that we, the mobile electronics fans, would be in a worse situation.

But it all turned out great. This twist of fate is not least due to the hero of my today’s material. In the electronic jungle of the zeros, there was as much tambourine dancing to “Hakuna Matata” as in the cartoon itself. For example, when I installed games for N-Gage on my Nokia 6630.

Or when I was downloading these apps (which sometimes weighed 50 megabytes) through the expensive mobile Internet at 5 kilobytes per second. Yes, dear Carl Grimes, that’s the kind of connection we had in the 2000s.

As a final touch to this picture of anguish with a taste of pride (because of playing in advanced mobile gaming novelties), I note that pretty often after an hour of downloading, you could see the following message: “x megabytes left,” “xxx kilobytes left” and … “connection interrupted.”

Never before in my life have I wanted to destroy the world, brag to my neighbors about my rich “vocabulary,” call the operator for a refund, and… sleep at the same time. Because at night, the connection was always the fastest.

But first things first, friends. So get yourselves comfortable and have some goodies on hand because the story about the best mobile OS of the 2000s (and my all-time favorite one), Symbian, is about to begin!

Click “Next” to watch other game reviews – all my videos dedicated to apps for Simba included in this playlist


Contents

1 Prehistory
1.1 The Dawn of an Era
1.2 First Experiments
2 Welcome to Symbian OS!
2.1 Operating System Versions
2.1.0 Early Closed Source Operating Systems
2.1.1 Symbian OS 6.0 – 6.1
2.1.2 Symbian OS 7.0 – 7.0s
2.1.3 Symbian OS 8.0 – 8.1b
2.1.4 Symbian OS 9.0 – 9.3
2.1.5 Symbian OS 9.4 – 9.5
2.2 Platforms
2.2.1 Series 60
2.2.2 UIQ
2.2.3 Series 80
2.2.4 Series 90
2.2.5 MOAP
3 Company Closure
3.1 Reasons for Failure
4 Mark in History


Prehistory

In the zeros, Simba was the main engine of the progress of the smartphone market. It raised the bar for the devices’ technical characteristics and the quality of their usage year by year. Not least of all, thanks to its efforts, many countries implemented UMTS networks in the zeros.

In general, the company’s role in the world of intelligent phones is hard to overestimate because it is like Microsoft in the area of computers. And it would be better if the Americans at the beginning of the next decade did not put their hands on the creations of our hero.

If we dig into the boring facts, we have to state that Symbian is not the first operating system for mobile phones. It was ROM-DOS installed on the IBM Simon device, which release was in 1994. Alas, it did not have much success.

Then in 1996, the world saw the Nokia 9000, the first communicator from the Finns. But it also worked on another OS called GEOS. It was the closed source operating system, which was its main disadvantage. In other words, it was not possible to install third-party applications there. In everything else, the Nokia 9000 was not inferior to PDAs (which could not make calls) of its time.

After analyzing the market reaction to the released product, Nokia decided to start working on its own operating system. The creators of Symbian OS had an ocean of opportunities: no competition and the possibility to develop promising innovations.

And, of course, the new millennium’s proximity seemed to hint that this should be the time for something unique. That’s what I call an inspiring moment!

The Dawn of an Era

In 1998 a critical moment occurred that would completely change the mobile world at the turn of the century. The leading cell phone manufacturers (including Nokia, Motorola, and Ericsson), in collaboration with Psion (founder of the Epoc OS and manufacturer of PDAs), formed Symbian company.

It is important to note that the Epoc OS was the basis they tried to develop for the next two years. It means the title Symbian was not given to the operating system but only to the company working on improving the Epoc OS. There were only 150 people in its first office.

I will make a separate remark to tell about the mysterious company from England, Psion. Friends, probably most of you have heard this name for the first time today. It is not strange because Motorola has taken over the Brits, and the staff noticeably thinned out these days.

In 1998, they were an ambitious company that had made a thorny path in the realm of computer technology. In the beginning, in the first half of the 1980s, they used to make software. Then Psion started making PDAs and created their operating system at the same time.

In the early 1990s, they also tried their luck in the laptops market but failed. So in the last years of the 20th century, Psion was working on two fronts, PDA production, and Epoc OS support.

Because of financial problems, the company decided to license the system for use by third parties. Nokia, Motorola, and Ericsson appeared on the horizon. Later they were joined by Panasonic (1999), Sony with Sanyo (2000), Fujitsu (2001), and Samsung (2002). The Koreans also became co-owner of Symbian in 2003.

First Experiments

As I said before, in the two starting years of its history, Symbian developed the 32-bit Epoc operating system. And so, in 2000, Ericsson R380 was released, the first mutual fruit of love from the intellectual efforts of its specialists.

It is also the first device that was officially named “smartphone.” The appearance of the gadget was fascinating. When closed, it was an ordinary monoblock, but there was a huge touchscreen display under the flap of the hinged keyboard.

Yes, it was a black & white one and with a resolution of 120×360 pixels. However, guys, if you had walked with such a device on the streets in 2000, you immediately realized how modestly people react now to the latest flagships of the smartphones world.

Onboard there were 2 MB of RAM and twice as much flash memory. The machine was running OC ER5u (as I read as a teenager in a magazine), which some people also call Symbian v5.1. Although the OS itself was open, users of Ericsson R380 could not install third-party applications directly on it.

Welcome to Symbian OS!

In 2001, the company announced itself loudly. It released Symbian OS. For the next ten years, it will become a major player in the smart devices market. Initially, the basis for writing applications was C++, which was the most functional programming language then.

Plus, multilingual and multi-format Symbian OS became even more attractive to developers and manufacturers. There are no restrictions on the resolution/type of screen, the presence or absence of a keyboard. And ARM processors were chosen as the base platform. They were the best in the price/performance/power-consumption ratio at the time.

Smart2000s - Sidetalking Meme

All of this will make it possible to build devices with a unique design and reliable hardware. The abundance of variety in the appearance of gadgets simply boggled the imagination.

There were monoblocks, sliders, clamshells, mini-notebooks, and various transformers. People could even use gaming consoles! They formed some of the key factors in which I found inspiration for creating the Smart2000s project.

Operating System Versions

The world saw 11 versions of this OS in total. A lot has changed throughout this time, but one thing has remained unchanged: Symbian devices controlled the smartphone market. This reign lasted until the end of the golden 2000s.

Early Closed Source Operating Systems

Perhaps not even all avid Simba fans are aware of the versions that I will present below. However, it is logical to assume that the OS has a number after its name for a reason. And the very first one was not the 6th Simba, for example.

As I said above, the title of the operating system was EPOC32. The 5th version was the only one that had two names at the same time:

  1. EPOC32 Release 5.
  2. Symbian OS v5.
VersionRelease dateShort descriptionRepresentatives
104/1997Starting version of a brand new operating system with a suite of office software.Psion Series 5 1.00 ROM
207/1997Developers fixed some bugs. The company added the EasyFax app and releasing the EPOC Connect PC communication package.Psion Series 5 1.01 ROM
PsiWin 2.0
311/1997Added support of remote access and TCP/IP. Also appeared WEB and Email applications.Geofox One
PCC Synergy
406/1998It is a closed in-house release. Among the new features: EPOC Connect CopyAnywhere (data exchange via Clipboard), support of Email with attached files, pre-release of Java machine, and other less significant improvements.Message Suite 1.5
PsiWin 2.2
Oregon Scientific Osaris
5/5u
(was also called Symbian OS v5)
06/1999Here we see an upgraded version of EPOC 32 with a color screen and Java support, plus here is an improved connection with other devices.Psion: Series 5mx, Series 7, NetBook, Revo/Revo+
Ericsson R380 Smartphone (5u) 
Ericsson Mobile Companion MC-218

Symbian OS 6.0 – 6.1

The first version with the only name that included Symbian in the title was 6.0. And the pioneer among the devices running it was the Nokia 9210. To give you an idea of its affordability for the average user, in 2007-2015 years it was almost ten times cheaper to own the latest iPhone than this device in 2001. Read the article to the end, and you’ll find out how I got these figures 😉

In version 6.1, GPRS and Bluetooth support already appeared. Interestingly, the first Nokia Symbian-based smartphone is the Nokia 7650, equipped with this version of the OS. This nuance is because the Nokia 9210 was considered a communicator. And in the zeros, the concepts of “smartphone” and “communicator” were fundamentally divided into different categories.

At the time, Symbian OS already allowed users to play games, listen to MP3/AAC music, watch videos in different formats (3GP, MP4, AVI), write Python programs, surf the Internet, use e-mail, and make calls, of course.

On 6.1 also work both Gagas (Nokia N-Gage and Nokia N-Gage QD), the twins Nokia 3650 & Nokia 3660, and the only smartphone from Siemens in history – Siemens SX1.

By the way, I should note that I will not be able to describe all the smartphones separately further and mention only the key models. Therefore, I will present the list of devices for a particular OS separately.

Symbian OS 7.0 – 7.0s

Version 7.0 release was in 2003. Were added IPv6 and EDGE support, plus the traditional Java ME standard changed the previous pJava one. Many people might have known it due to the first best-selling smartphone, Nokia 6600. The importance of this model is hard to overstate, as it showed the world how smart gadgets could help people in daily situations.

The subsequent Symbian OS 7.0s differed from the 7.0 version in that it improved compatibility with the applications that software engineers developed for the 6th Simba. Famous representatives:

  • Nokia 7610 – the first smartphone with a megapixel camera and the owner of a very memorable design
  • Nokia 6260 – clamshell, ancestor of Nokia N90, Nokia N93, and Nokia N93i
  • Nokia 9500 – powerful communicator with Wi-Fi support
  • Nokia 3230 – “smartphone for students” (that was its name in one of the first magazines dedicated to the mobile phones that I ever read)

During this period of the company’s development, several important things happened. First, Psion sold its share of Symbian company to Nokia. Secondly, the first virus for this operating system appeared. But it was harmless.

It simply acted as a notification of its presence in the system when launching the device and tried to transmit itself via Bluetooth. This electronic creature was called Cabir. Its developers wanted to demonstrate that Simba’s security system is imperfect and still has Achilles’ heels.

Nokia 7700 and Nokia 7710 are worth mentioning separately. Already then, in 2004, the Finns began to take steps towards the start of the era of smartphones with touchscreens. But for some reason, they lost faith in these devices too early and closed the project a year later.

This moment is very important because who knows what would happen with the company today if Nokia continued working on touchscreen gadgets back then. But in the real world… they resumed it only three years later. And that’s because Apple’s brainchild (first-generation iPhone) had fallen painfully on heads of this Finnish Newtons.

I also remember a hilarious move by Samsung. They released several devices (Samsung D720 and Samsung D730) based on the 7th version of Symbian OS at the beginning of 2005 when the legendary Nokia 6630 was already thundering in the market. It was running 8th Simba and had 3G support.

You could argue that these gadgets could not have been competitors for Finns’ creation, but cheaper smartphones. However, Samsung D720 was positioned exactly as the company’s top model. That’s the point.

Of course, too long development time played its part. The Koreans have wanted to enter the Symbian niche since 2003. But either the products never saw the light of day, or the manufacturers delayed the release significantly.

Symbian OS 8.0 – 8.1b

Here comes my darling 8th Simba. If I didn’t have it in my life, there would be a completely different person in front of you now. Luckily, that did not happen. And it was this version that introduced me to the beautiful world of Symbian OS. Ah… here we go!

Compared to all previous versions, the updated 8.0a has undergone the most significant changes. Its release was in 2004. Users got 3G, CDMA, DVB-H digital TV, bi-directional data transfer, stereo in headphones (before that, it was only present in Nokia N-Gage), and Bluetooth 1.2 (the older smartphones had 1.1 version).

Nokia 6680, Nokia 6681, Nokia 6682, and 6630 run it. The latter is the first smartphone with 3G network support and has the most convenient controls among the 2000s devices (in my opinion). Moreover, the design itself is highly ergonomic.

It was my first smart gadget, and I had it for almost five years, until the beginning of the new decade. But that’s a different story. I will note that I never had an ordinary phone (I mean, not a smartphone).

Let’s go back to Symbian OS. Now it’s time to talk about the version called 8.1a. It’s just a slightly upgraded 8.0a with the support of vector graphics. But the devices that had it inside came out interesting:

  • Nokia N90 is the first representative of the N-series, which had the chicest design (clamshell-transformer). It also had a fantastic screen (352×416 pixels instead of the standard 176×208) and a tremendous 2-megapixel camera. There was autofocus with flash, advanced video recording capabilities, and exclusive Carl Zeiss optics. TNMK band (they are my Ukrainian compatriots) used it to shoot the world’s first professional music video using a cell phone. This work is called “I forget.” 
  • Nokia N70 – monoblock with excellent performance and good ergonomics
  • Nokia N72 – the last device running the 8th version of Symbian OS

That’s how the classic era of Simba ended. After all, the next one will begin a new line in the evolution of this operating system, where the developers will deliberately make incompatible applications for its older and younger generations.

This factor was negative for both. Nokia sharply stopped releasing new programs for veterans (that’s how we called smartphones based on previous Symbian OS versions in the second half of the zeros). Finns implicitly urged other software developers to do so. Fortunately, almost none of them followed this provocation.

Users of the 9th version, on the other hand, were in a more unpleasant situation. In addition to the “victory” in the form of obligatory application certification through the Symbian Internet resource, they lost the opportunity of launching all the massive heritage of software and games that had accumulated over half the decade.

I see the primary reason for this decision is that the company had a bad experience with N-Gage games. That’s why at that time, it seemed the best solution to do everything from scratch.

In general, it turned out that the veterans continued to receive the necessary range of applications, as well as the devices on the 9th Simba. But the latter did not have access to the “classic collection” of both games and programs.

It seems that Finns created the N-Gage 2.0 platform for the new version out of pity. And, probably, for a distraction of eyes. Like Nokia said: “Look, you have your own N-Gage. No need to complain!”.

It’s also worth noting that since the launch of Symbian OS 9th version, some of the company’s market share has started to fall off little by little. And the “arrival” of iOS and Android were controlling pushes into the abyss.

Symbian OS 9.0 – 9.3

The new version of Simba also started to use the new core. I should say that at the development stage, it appeared on version 8.1b. But it, like Symbian OS 9.0, was available for the company’s internal developments only. Therefore, the new core was announced to the general public simultaneously with the 9.1 OS. It happened at the end of 2005.

Its interface is almost identical to the 8.1a one. But the screen resolution of most devices moved to the new standard of 240×320 pixels. The latter, again, was also supported by the 8.1a version. However, the creators decided to equip the Nokia N90 screen with a resolution of 352×416.

The key difference between this version and all previous ones lies in their absolute incompatibility at the software selection stage. The pain called “application certification” was also added. The main innovation is… drum roll… Bluetooth 2.0 support! A “revolutionary” OS, that’s for sure.

With the release of version 9.2 in 2007, the company reported ten aspects that had changed. However, users received only a slightly larger number of fields in the phonebook since the appearance of vCard 2.1. Symbian 9.3, the newcomer of early 2008, boasts advanced memory management, built-in HSDPA (3.5G), and 802.11 Wi-Fi support.

Despite the ambiguous OS, there are many worthy devices under its control from Nokia:

  • N91/N91 8GB – premium devices designed for music lovers
  • E90 – the last representative of the famous line of communicators
  • N93/N93i – thoroughbred cameraphones in the clamshell-transformer form factor
  • N80/N81/N85/N86/N95/N95 8GB/N96 – legendary sliders with the most powerful hardware of their time
  • N73/N77/N78/N79/N82 – monoblocks for youth
  • 3250/5700 – musical smartphones in the “cube-roublemaker” form factor
  • E70/E75/5730 – devices with an opening full QWERTY-keyboard
  • E61/E61i/E63/E71 – full-format QWERTY keyboard in a uniform body
  • 6290/N71/N76 – smart clamshells with a wide range of case colors
  • E60/E51/E55 – “universal soldiers” in monoblock form
  • 6110/E65/E66/6210 – sliders for the business audience
  • 6120/5320/5630 – smartphones for students
  • E50-1/E50-2/6220 – strict and business-like gadgets, there is nothing unnecessary in their design

Symbian OS 9.4 – Symbian 9.5

At the end of 2008, Finns announced the Nokia 5800 to the public. It’s the first representative of the new Symbian OS version for touchscreen devices. The resolution switched to the standard of 360×640 pixels. Also, the new flagship Nokia N97 received this version of Simba.

Again we see the same situation. Versions 9.1 and 9.2 are entirely incompatible with the 9.4 one. On devices equipped with 9.3, some parts of them should work, but this was not always the case. And among the new features, except support for touch screens, there is not much to note.

During this period, Nokia stayed the only company that continues to produce Simba-based gadgets. All other cell phone manufacturers are out of the game. Don’t be deceived by the model from Vertu because the Finns developed it. 

Version 9.5 received the support of the new TV and SQL standards. The engineers also optimized the application’s launching speed. Symbian OS 9.5 can be considered the last version in the operating system history. There is no info about other versions in the official sources.

Here are the key devices that have come out since the release of Symbian OS 9.5:

  • Nokia 500, 603, 700, 701, 702T, 801T
  • Nokia C6-01, C7-00, E6, E7, N8, T7-00, X7
  • Nokia Astound, Oro
  • Vertu Constellation
  • Nokia 808 – the last smartphone based on the legendary OS, which has onboard a record 41-megapixel camera

Platforms

Since the company’s founding, various platforms have appeared: Series 60 (S60), UIQ, Series 80 (S80), Series 90 (S90), and the Mobile Oriented Applications Platform (MOAP). The first one was the most large-scale and long-lasting, and the other four were either experimental or narrowly focused.

The important point is that all of them are incompatible with each other. So it is impossible to run the same application on devices from different platforms.

Series 60

Except for the incompatibility with other platforms, S60 had it even inside between editions. But nothing complicated there. Now I’ll explain it all to you in a nutshell.

First of all, the main reason for this was the decade-long evolution of the platform. Time passed, hardware changed, screen types and resolutions improved, and older devices did not support innovations.

Secondly, creators logically divided the entire list of editions in which there can be feature packs according to their compatibility with each other.

1) The 1st and 2nd editions:

TitleVersionOSRepresentatives
S600.9Symbian OS v6.1Nokia 7650
S60 1st Edition1.2Symbian OS v6.1Nokia 3600, 3620, 3650, 3660; Nokia N-Gage, N-Gage QD
Sendo X, X2
Siemens SX1
S60 2nd Edition2.0Symbian OS v7.0Nokia 6600
Panasonic X700, X800
Samsung SGH-D720, SGH-D728, SGH-D730, SGH-Z600
S60 2nd Edition,

Feature Pack 1

2.1Symbian OS v7.0sNokia 3230, 6260, 6620, 6670, 7610
S60 2nd Edition,

Feature Pack 2

2.6Symbian OS v8.0aNokia 6630, 6680, 6681, 6682
Lenovo P930
S60 2nd Edition,

Feature Pack 3

2.8Symbian OS v8.1aNokia N70, N72, N90

2) The 3rd edition::

TitleVersionOSRepresentatives
S60 3rd Edition 3.0Symbian OS v9.1Nokia 3250, 5500 Sport, E50, E60, E61, E61i, E62, E65, E70, N71, N73, N75, N77, N80, N91, N91 8GB, N92, N93, N93i
Samsung SGH-i570
S60 3rd Edition,

Feature Pack 1

3.1Symbian OS v9.2Nokia 5700, 6110, 6120, 6121, 6124, 6290, E51, E63, E66, E71, E90, N76, N81, N81 8GB, N82, N95, N95 8GB
Samsung SGH-G810, SGH-i400, SGH-i408, SGH-i450, SGH-i458, SGH-i520, SGH-i550, SGH-i550w, SGH-i560, SGH-i568
LG KS10, KT610, KT615
S60 3rd Edition, 

Feature Pack 2 

3.2Symbian OS v9.3Nokia 5320, 5630, 5730, 6210, 6220, 6650, 6700, 6710, 6720, 6730, 6760, 6788, 6788i, 6790, 6790, C5-00, C5-00 5MP, C5-01, E5-00, E52, E55, E71x, E72, E73, E75, N78, N79, N85, N86 8MP, N96, X5-00
Samsung GT-i8510, GT-I7110, SGH-L870

3) The 4th edition, suddenly, does not exist. It turns out that this number is considered unlucky in some Asian countries. For the same reason, there is no 4xxx series in the Nokia lineup. Well, here it is – the 5th edition:

TitleVersionOSRepresentativesUpdates
S60 5th Edition
or
Symbian^1
5.0Symbian OS v9.4Nokia 5800, 5530, 5228, 5230, 5230 Nuron, 5233, 5235, 5250, N97, N97 Mini, X6, C5-03, C5-04, C5-05, C5-06, C6-00
Samsung i8910 Omnia HD
Sony Ericsson Satio, Vivaz, Vivaz Pro
Not available
Symbian^2
or
MOAP
5.1Symbian OS v9.5Exclusive to the Japanese market
Symbian^35.2Symbian OS v9.5Nokia N8, E7, C7-00, C6-01Up to Belle
Symbian Anna5.2Symbian OS v9.5Nokia 500, E6, X7, Astound, Oro, T7-00, 702T, 801T
Vertu Constellation
Up to Belle
Symbian Belle
or
Nokia Belle
5.3No official dataNokia 603, 700, 701Up to Belle,
Feature Pack 2
Nokia Belle,
Feature Pack 1
5.4No official dataNokia 808Up to Belle,
Feature Pack 2
Nokia Belle,
Feature Pack 2
5.5No official dataNone (devices that would have had this platform installed by default were never released)Not available

Finally, I have one comment about the last two editions mentioned above. It lies in the fact that some applications developed specifically for the newer one may not run on earlier editions. But they are more likely to launch on later ones.

For example, most apps written for 9.x/S^1 works fine on gadgets that run Symbian OS versions up to Belle FP2. However, this does not always proceed correctly. There could be possible incomplete application functionality or minor flaws in terms of UI. Because especially in the case of 9.x, everything was designed primarily for devices without touchscreens.

But there are enough stable apps, and especially among the programs. Compatibility for games is relatively poor because displays resolution has increased significantly since 9.4 and S^3. That leads to the above-mentioned incorrect representation of the picture or it not being displayed at all.

Versions of operating systems from 6 to 8 are completely incompatible with “younger” ones. Also, the rule of optimizing by newness applies. It means the newer the platform is, the more software it supports.

So here is another example. If you have a Nokia 6630 (S60 2nd Edition, Feature Pack 2), you could launch almost all the applications developed purely for S60 2nd Edition, Feature Pack 1. However, in the opposite direction, there may be troubles.

UIQ

UIQ represented touchscreen devices. It was an adapted Symbian OS for stylus control. For some reason, Nokia was cold to it and released only one smartphone on this platform. Mostly Motorola and Sony Ericsson worked there. SE bought it at the end of 2006, and two years later, they announced the platform’s closure.

UIQ and adapted Symbian OS versionsRelease yearNew featuresRepresentatives
1.0 (Symbian 6.0)2000Support of screens with a resolution of 240×320 pixels, built-in phone features.None
1.1 (Symbian 6.0)2001WAP 1.2.1, GSM, HSCSD, GPRS, and Bluetooth support.None
2.0 (Symbian 7.0)2002It became possible to use a flexible screen size (the ability to reduce the viewing area) and MMS & SyncML support.Sony Ericsson P800
Motorola A920, A925
Benq P30
Arima U300
2.1 (Symbian 7.0)2003Java language support in accordance to MIDP 2.0.Sony Ericsson P900, P910
Motorola A1000, M1000
Benq P31
Arima U308
3.0 (Symbian 9.1)2005Enriched user interface and the ability to configure services remotely by the operator.Sony Ericsson M600, M600i, M608c, P1, P1i, P1c, P990, P990i, P990c, W950, W950i, W958c, W960, W960i, W960c, G700, G900
3.1 (Symbian 9.2)2007Support of new graphical formats, the ability to customize the function buttons, and process list view.Motorola RIZR Z8, Nahpohos Z8
3.2 (Symbian 9.2)2008Push-push email service and built-in messenger.Motorola RIZR Z10
3.3 (Symbian 9.3)2008Built-in Opera 9 web browser and support of Opera Widgets.Never came out, although Sony Ericsson had a few announced models – G702 and P5i

Series 80

Nokia 9210, which I promised to mention and compare to the iPhone in terms of affordability, was based on the Series 80. Let’s calculate how many Apple devices you could need to buy a one-bedroom apartment in Moscow. 

Although I am from Ukraine, my readers are unlikely to know much about the geography of my homeland. So I decided to use the country’s capital, which is to the east of us, like Mordor in The Lord of the Rings. Just kidding, hello to the Russian guys. But to the local politicians, I will say, “Russia Goodbye.”

Since I have been writing this article for several years, the situation in the real estate market has changed slightly, so from the beginning, I pointed out that I will take the period from 2007 to 2015.

Yes, I know there are the 2020s in the Universe already. But the example I’m about to give here is very surprising. In my opinion, it’s better to make myself look like a slowpoke in front of an audience than to deprive you of such interesting information. So the juice is worth the squeeze.

In 2007-2015, the cost per square meter of real estate within the Moscow area was about 5 thousand dollars. The price of the new latest iPhone was about a thousand. Let’s assume that we need an apartment with a total area of 30 square meters: 30×5000=150 thousand dollars and, accordingly, we got 150 smartphones from Apple.

In 2001, when Nokia 9210 became available for sale, the average price per square meter here was $650. The cost of the Nokia smartphone at the start of sales was $1300. 

So now we calculate using this data: 30×650=20500 dollars – the cost of a one-room apartment at that time. Divide this amount by the price of the Nokia 9210 (which, as you remember, is $1300), and you get figure 15. 

Intriguing math, isn’t it? In total, we have 15 Nokia 9210 and 150 iPhones. This proportion shows the contrasts between the affordability of the first Symbian device and the flagship based on iOS.

As for the platform, Series 80 was aimed at business users and was limited to communicators. There were laptop-like devices with two screens. One small display on the outside part of the case and a huge one inside it. In addition, they had a QWERTY keyboard.

Two editions existed in total: S80 1-st Edition and S80 2-st Edition. It was closed in 2005.

TitleOSNew featuresRepresentatives
S80 1-st EditionSymbian OS v6.0Support of 640×200 screens, complete QWERTY keyboard, J2ME, SSL/TLS, Opera-based fully functional browser, sending and receiving faxes.Nokia 9210, 9210i, 9290
S80 2-st EditionSymbian OS v7.0sWi-Fi and Bluetooth support.Nokia 9300, 9300i, 9500

Series 90

Finns installed the platform only on two devices, Nokia 7700 and Nokia 7710. These touchscreen gadgets became the ancestors of the bestseller of the late 2000s, the Nokia 5800.

It was not an ordinary experience for the Finns because all the developments from the S90 they successfully transferred to the Series 60 in the future. But… with a delay (we’ll talk about it very soon). Like the S80, the Series 90 was closed in 2005.

Mobile Oriented Applications Platform

It is a closed platform, which Nokia distributed in Japan. There is not much information about it. From the key points, I can mention that Finns divided the platform into two versions: MOAP(S) and MOAP(L). It is not difficult to understand their differences. Pay attention to the letter in brackets. It will explain which operating system is supported.

S for Symbian OS, L for Linux OS, and V for Vendet… Oops! Nevermind. Friends, are you still awake? We are coming to the finish line. So you are pretty good at reading this very boring technical article. Well done! As for the platform, all I have left to say is that in 2010 MOAP was replaced by Symbian². 

Company Closure

The end of the fairy tale called Symbian came in 2011-2012. Then it finally became clear that the OS would be “dumped” for the sake of promoting Windows Mobile (which soon suffered the same fate and faded into oblivion). Nokia announced that they would support the operating system until 2016 but not planned to release new devices.

Reasons for Failure

Now we are gradually moving on to the not-so-pleasant part of the history of Symbian OS. So who or what pushed it into the abyss? Even the most superficial analysis can point to three factors:

  • the complicated process of applications programming
  • no open source until 2010, its absence frantically slowed down the development of the OS
  • competitors represented by Android and iOS

Although this is only the tip of a giant iceberg, I will take it apart for a start. Let’s begin with the code writing topic. For programming apps for Symbian OS, developers needed to know the C++ language. I put Python aside because programmers used it to write relatively simple applications, though often very interesting.

The competitors had an advantage because it was easier and faster to write programs for their operating systems. All thanks to the use of the Java language.

I note for the guys interested in programming that the problem was not in C++ as in the “monstrous” API. I should also mention that closer to the end of Simba (Symbian^3 to be exact), it was possible to use the handy Qt framework with Qt Quick. However, of course, this step was made too late. In my opinion, top management did it intentionally. I will explain my theory a bit later.

Suppose we set apart the factor of the difficulty of writing programs. In that case, I should mention that until the end of the 2000s, iOS was only a competitor in the higher price segment of the market, but it was not the unqualified leader. Later, Simba began to be pushed back to the role of the OS for budget smartphones, where it would find its customers.

Thanks to the excellent optimization of quite modest devices in terms of “iron,” it produced a high-quality picture even compared to iOS. Although in Symbian, back in 2006, Nokia N93 started the era of smartphones with GPU. However, having released six devices with its support, the Finns did not develop this potential.

Android, on the other hand, looked more like just a promising player. I’m not kidding. Let’s go back to when the last operating system from Symbian, Belle, was released. “The Robot” had version 2.3 at the moment. A quick comparison of their interface with each other shows how much more attractive Simba’s creation was. 

The lack of open-source code and the complicated programming language ruined the company. Since top management did not eliminate the shortcomings mentioned above until 2010, Android swept Bella away regarding the number of available applications.

Now, let’s think about this nuance for a while. Were the developers so stupid that they did not understand the obvious? The OS needed a breath of fresh air, which could be open source, and usage of an easier programming language.

However, this happened only when the guarantee of a fatal end became one hundred percent. Why? Here we come to the real reason for the collapse of the Symbian and the original Nokia companies.

It lies in the top management. I see the situation as such that the ordinary engineers tried to the last minute to save the corporation, but the bosses “put huge sticks in their wheels,” as we say it in Ukraine.

For example, you could argue that there was Nokia N9. with MeeGo OS on board. It could eventually grow into a real work of art. And you would be right! It was an excellent operating system.

The product from the Finns would be a powerful competitor to the iPhone 4s. But the success of both the OS and the smartphones running it was doomed six months before the release of the Nokia N9.

That’s because Steven Elop joined the company from Microsoft. He became the executive director of Nokia and immediately started pushing the transition to Windows Mobile. He called to leave Symbian OS and MeeGo in the past. Elop motivated this because he did not see (or rather did not want to see) these two operating systems as competitors for Android and iOS.

His letter to the company’s employees was published online. He compared Nokia to a man standing on the edge of a burning oil platform (the embodiment of Simba and MeeGo). He thought that the best solution would be to jump somewhere else.

But I would not call Elop the only one responsible for such an epic fiasco. Everything had been decided by the previous management long before he joined the company. The fact is that Symbian OS 8.0 was actually the last version of the operating system in which the developers sincerely invested all of their capabilities.

That’s because in 2005 there was a fatal turn in the development of the company. It should have inevitably led to its collapse. But thanks to the large stock of strength (which had accumulated by the mid-2000s) and the enthusiasm of the company’s ordinary staff, Symbian stayed afloat for another half-decade.

It pains me to tell you about it, even though it’s only about the “pieces of iron” (as some people would perceive it). However, I was and still am a faithful Symbian OS fan. Thanks to this operating system, I started to write my first articles, draw digital graphics, and be interested in programming.

As it turned out, engineers from the company’s staff predicted that touchscreens and the mobile Internet would be fundamental in the future. However, it was as if the bosses themselves began to strive to ensure that their techno-child would not fully develop further.

The former chief designer of Nokia, Frank Nuovo, stated this fact. In an extensive interview, he told about unique concepts and designs were created. But the management buried them alive. Frank explains it by the reason that the bosses were more interested in the struggle for influence.

The situation is bizarre. It was as if someone intimidated the top management and commanded these persons to slow down the speeding up train called Symbian OS. After that, they tried their best to make the devices only simpler.

The company implemented innovations only due to the pressure of employees, who saw the opportunities that the management was sinking. As an example, let’s remember N-Gage and N-Gage 2.0. Doesn’t it confuse you that the older platform is better in almost every aspect than the younger one?Interesting nuance, isn’t it?

Click “Next” to watch other game reviews – all my videos within apps for the N-Gage platform included in this playlist

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Mark in History

Symbian OS has become the key to the world of smartphones for millions of people. They had their first thrilling experience using a clever device by launching programs, including graphics/code editors. Or maybe they were playing fun games considered among the best mobile apps of their time.

I was one of these guys. That’s why the deliberate and ruthless destruction of Simba’s potential makes me very angry because of this injustice. However, I want to relive those glory days and familiar with this great operating system more people.

Perhaps my Smart2000s project will be just a drop in the ocean and looks like Don Quixote’s battles with windmills. But I will know for sure that I gave my all for the thing I truly love. And this article is the hundredth material published here. Thus Smart Zeros has a small anniversary today. I hope it’s just the beginning of an incredible journey.

Friends, thank you for finishing such a long read. I wish you health and success in fighting for what is precious to you personally. Each of us has such a battle in our lives. So, let’s go to victory!

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