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The Future of Symbian 59

S3D writes "On 18 May 2004, Symbian, owner of the OS for high-end smartphones announced the formal launch of the Symbian Signed initiative for digitally signing and certifying Symbian applications that meet a set of test criteria. Gartner believes that Symbian Signed, in its current form, is a weak certification program oriented largely toward the needs of application publishers and network operators and may be inconvinient for developers. "
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The Future of Symbian

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  • Link is slightly mispelled. Not quite safe for work. Pretty good try though.

    New deal processing engine online: []
    • Or does the asshole who moderated this "informative" really think the article meant Sybian, instead of Symbian? Jeez, how much effort is it to sweep your cursor over the links before moderating? Well, to be fair to the poster, maybe the parent of this didn't intend to be a troll at all, just replied to the main story, instead of to a post above, but this doesn't change the fact that the moderator is an asshole.
  • You'd think... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Short Circuit ( 52384 ) <> on Monday May 24, 2004 @07:32AM (#9236240) Homepage Journal
    and may be inconvinient for developers.

    ...that they might have said the same thing about all the mandatory copy protection systems in place (or proposed) on devices. Like console systems. Or Palladium.
    • Yeah, but the purpose of that scheme is to restrict applications. And as a result there isn't that much variety of applications on most game consoles.

      I would think the phone manufacturers are trying for a more varied application base. They also have to worry about the lack of any killer apps, and lots of competing platforms. Limiting the applications that are available for the platform seems counterproductive.
  • Seem Familiar? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lachlan76 ( 770870 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @07:34AM (#9236251)
    I think that I have heard this before...let me think...I'll get it...Microsoft Driver Signing. The point of that was to scare new users into buying alternate forms of hardware which have been produced by a manufacturer paid by Microsoft. While this isn't quite the same, it is restrictive to independant developers.
    • I mean a manufacturer who pays Microsoft.
    • "point of that was to scare new users into buying alternate forms of hardware which have been produced by a manufacturer paid by Microsoft."

      Actually, the point was to make sure hardware manufacturers (probably the weakest link Microsoft has to rely on) kept with the standards they set.

      Of all the crashes I've had in Windows 2000 and XP, 9 out of 10 have been driver related. 1 of those 9 are signed drivers, but the vast majority are unsigned drivers that I install (and ignore the warnings for).

      Think about
      • Re:Seem Familiar? (Score:2, Interesting)

        by bit01 ( 644603 )

        There's no question in my mind that signed drivers lead to stable computers.

        Depends on your point of view. If it doesn't run the piece of software/hardware you want at all (due to the signing not working because it is not in the M$ monopoly financial interest) that sounds 100% unstable to me.

        The correct solution is for the M$ OS to popup a meaningful error message pointing the finger at the appropriate broken driver and manufacturer. Since most failures are access violations this would work a charm. It

        • "The correct solution is for the M$ OS to popup a meaningful error message pointing the finger at the appropriate broken driver and manufacturer."

          You're joking, right? Currently you get a full hex dump and often the exact name of the driver file causing the problem. The fact that the system doesn't have time to intercept an errant hardware call and pop-up a web address of the manufacturer certainly shouldn't be held against it.

          Look at Mac OS X. If the system crashes, all you get is a single graphic in
  • All I wana know is...

    Does it come with a sexy computer voice?
    • Yes, and it's the voice of Barry White.
    • I prefer Marylin Manroe's voice... But I can see why some people might like Barry
      • Re:Better OS? (Score:1)

        by OriginalChops (773524) on Mon May 24, '04 07:07 AM (#9236449)
        I prefer Marylin Manroe's voice... But I can see why some people might like Barry

        Marylin Manroe? Is he a transgender Marilyn Monroe look-alike? I guess if that's what you're into...

    • Yes, multiple choice:
      • Matthew Perry: "Yeah, could I BE any more of a house?"
      • Dennis Miller: "Hey, cha-cha, I got more features than a NASA relief map of Turkmenistan."
      • Pierce Brosnan: "Say, it's a bit stuffy in here ... and I know a certain someone who really fancies lilac."
  • Right! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CaptainZapp ( 182233 ) * on Monday May 24, 2004 @07:38AM (#9236274) Homepage
    The test criteria are minimal and oriented toward application installation, interaction with network features such as billing, and ensuring that the application does not disrupt major phone features such as call handling. No meaningful tests exist to ensure usability, quality, effective documentation, conformance with interface expectations, correct operation in the absence of expected network features or correct operation on all hardware variants of the complex and fragmented Symbian platform.

    Well, we are talking of an OS for cell phones, right? Wouldn't it be the major goal of such a certification process indeed be about being compatible with the network and with phone features?

    Symbian doesn't specifiy a user interface. Nokia developed Systems 60/90 as user interfaces. Sony Ericsson provides again something different. Other manufacturers sublicense the interface (Siemens)

    Again and very slowly: Certifying a cell phone (platform) is precisely about the systems interaction with the network. Not about "usability" (whatever that is).

    Not all certification is carried out independently.

    Ah, you mean like some analysts don't seem to act independently, but sometimes leave the reader with the distinct fealing that they are whores in the pay of a uhhh! major software company trying frantically to get a foothold into the booming cellphone business?

    Dudes, this is not about "Windows Certified". I suggest that you use more of your time cluing yourself in, instead of constantly wasting your time in rebooting your Microsoft Powered "Smart"-Phones.

    • Symbian does specify GUIs. UIQ came from Symbian... its Quartz User Interface and was specified years ago... at the time of Symbian OS 6. (When I still had my Psion 5 before it drowned.. :- ( )

      Series 60 is Nokia.. yep.

      This UI thing is a pain.. its fragmenting Symbian - I want to be able to run Nokia Series 60 software or UIQ on whatever Symbian phone I have.

      The sooner the various Symbian UI compatible the better.
      • Not that I disagree. I would be nice to have fully interchangeable software on any Symbian phone.

        Nevertheless, this "analysis" is just braindead and looks bought by the boys from Redmond.

  • by manavendra ( 688020 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @07:47AM (#9236320) Homepage Journal
    It might well be a weak certification program, but in the past developers have worked with some real crap and more often than not, debug entire libraries themselves and/or report to OEM vendors, etc.

    So long as the owners of IP (and code), listen to developers and have a large enough pool of people to respond within reasonable times, the developer community over the world will embrace it AND provide it's feedback and suggestions
  • Sym?bian (Score:4, Funny)

    by Gothmolly ( 148874 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @07:47AM (#9236321)
    I guess I need more coffee, I started reading this as the future of Sybian [].
  • From _Paper.pdf

    "5.4. Freeware developers and the development process

    Symbian Signed recognises the innovation and value of the Freeware developer community and will introduce a Peer Review process which shall enable high quality Freeware applications which successfully pass the review process. Symbian Signed shall introduce this process during H2 2004.

    Certification is the means by which such software makes the transition from the developer community to the commercial world. However, there needs to be a means for developers to run applications without signing, both as part of the development process and to permit those with the technical skill to share ideas (e.g. developer groups at universities).

    Under normal circumstances this is not a problem as all phones allow installation of unsigned applications (usually with a warning). It is possible, however, in the future that some operators may require that only signed applications can be installed on phones supplied to their networks. In this case, the operators and phone makers will need to take steps to support the developer community.

    Generally this is achieved by providing "unlocked phones". Alternatively, there are opportunities in principle to integrate capabilities into the development tools (IDEs) that allow developers to install unsigned applications directly from the development tools. The choice of the most appropriate mechanism is an issue for the operators/phone makers.

    This will allow the developer community to develop applications even on phones that may normally restrict the installation of unsigned apps."
  • False safety (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Willeh ( 768540 ) <> on Monday May 24, 2004 @07:50AM (#9236334)
    I believe this will create a lot of resentment towards Symbian in the long run. The testing basically only gives you a guarantee that it will not run up your phonebill and or delete your range of oh-so cool ringtones/ sounds/ wallpapers/ whatevers. As the Gartner article points out, no work is being done to ensure usability, or even if the product is useful.

    It probably also means the developers get the green light to put huge "SYMBIAN APPROVED!!!!1" stickers on their products, which will be misleading to Joe Average PDA/CELL user. This in turn creates alot of resentment when the advertised product doesn't live up to the hype (that symbian indirectly helped create via the sticker), they will feel burned on the product and ultimately on Symbian products.

    Hell, even MS certified drivers have snuck by that made stuff break.

    • Re:False safety (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Troed ( 102527 )
      I believe this will create a lot of resentment towards Symbian in the long run. The testing basically only gives you a guarantee that it will not run up your phonebill and or delete your range of oh-so cool ringtones/ sounds/ wallpapers/ whatevers. ... and that's exactly what it SHOULD do, and nothing else. Don't you understand what this certification is for?

      It's the CELL OPERATORS that demand it - they don't want EVIL software running rampant in their networks. They're scared shitless as it is today with
  • This looks like a marketing ploy. Where the /. community many not like this, the average user would probubally have more trust in a signed application. And if those applications get preferential treatment, marketing and the rest then if your pushing a product it's a way to go.

    The average joe 6 pack would be more likely to trust a signed application than one with a warning.
  • Questions (Score:3, Interesting)

    by StripedCow ( 776465 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @07:57AM (#9236373)
    Couple of questions. Do they have a (free) runtime environment which runs on Linux? Can I use gcc to compile cellphone applications? If so, I am going to have a look at this stuff.
    • 'They' don't, but other people have sort-of ported the developer tools to Linux. Google for gnupoc. But the emulator is Win32 only, so you can't debug on the emulator (you can run the emulator under Wine if you want to). The standard Symbian compiler for the target is gcc. For the emulator it's Microsoft (for series 60) or CodeWarrior (for UIQ)
  • So Gartner attacks yet another technology which is a direct competitor to Microsoft's products.

    What else is new?

  • I think the title to this article: "The Future of Symbian" is a bit misleading, seeing just the headline I was under the impression that Symbian were at that stage (you know, the one Sun's at) where the future of the company is at stake (or maybe on a stake in Sun's case?). Anyway, doesn't really indicate that the article is regarding Symbian starting a program certification uh... program.
  • by samalone ( 707709 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @08:51AM (#9236758) Homepage
    I attended a handheld software developers conference last year where many of the talks were given by Symbian and Sony/Ericsson. They were trying to recruit developers to their platform, but it quickly became clear that they had little understanding of the commercial market for handheld software.

    The wireless carriers are accustomed to controlling both the handset that customers use and all of the software on that handset. Now that handsets have become smartphones, most of the carriers would like to maintain their position at the top of the customer foodchain by pre-certifying the software that can run on customer handsets and controlling the installation and sales of that software through the carrier's web portal. I don't really blame them: Revenues from voice traffic are declining, and so far revenues from data traffic aren't increasing fast enough to make up the difference.

    The problem is that independent software vendors don't want to buy into this system. Developing software for handhelds is difficult -- more difficult than developing similar desktop software because of the constrained resources on a handheld. Despite this, prices for handheld software are generally lower than for desktop software because customers perceive these to be "small" applications that should have "small" prices.

    Certification makes life more difficult for independent software vendors without providing much in return. It adds another expense to the software development process. It discourages frequent updates to the software (which customers generally like) by increasing the time and cost of each release.

    Worse, if certification is manditory, it prevents the customer from trying the software before purchasing it, and it prevents developers from testing and refining the software with real customers before certifying it.

    In my experience, these certification programs never achieve enough "brand awareness" from customers to become a factor in their purchasing decision. Companies look for and require certifications before making purchases, but individuals rarely do. So the software developer doesn't derive any benefit from the additional hassle and expense of getting certified.

    It's going to come down to this: Customers who are willing to pay a premium to get a smartphone are going to want one where they can install whatever software they want, not just software "certified" by the carrier. Most software developers will try to market directly to these customers rather than dealing with the extra cost and hassle of certification.

  • Microsoft has been doing the same thing to their mobile platform developers for a while now. All without much success, I might add. Developers are loathe to pay to have their apps certified when most of them aren't making any money anyway.

    Let's do the math. I don't know what the Symbian folks will charge, but in MS land it's $500 per certification. Each *complete* app needs to be certified, so if you support multiple languages, each is a separate certification.

    So that's $500 x say, 5 languages x 3 relea

  • The reason for certifying software is not to hurt developers.
    It's aim is to force the user to download only certified software the operator wants him to download.
    If a certificate costs money (and it does, any way you look at it) a free software vendor is not going to have one.
    Anyone knows an open source project not ran by a major company that can be freely downloaded to your smartphone?
    Block that freebies - and squeeze some $$$ from your customer.
    The Symbian move aims to lure operators into the growing mark
  • ...I was getting all happy about new sybian technology.
  • I initially read the title as The Future of the Sybian . Of course I clicked as fast as I could, only to be very disappointed by what it really was about.

Today is a good day for information-gathering. Read someone else's mail file.