The journey of Mobile inception and its revolution from being a high end enterprise device to a basic commodity has been simply astounding. The devices which could only be afforded by the wealthiest in business once upon a time have now become all pervasive, these days you cannot walk half a mile without seeing a person talking or texting. From mobile phones like Motorola DynaTac (1) which weighed about 2 pounds, 1 foot long, a battery life of 1 hour and a memory space of 30 phone numbers we now have Mobiles like Samsung S3 which weight about 0. 9pounds, an excellent battery life of 21hrs and an unimaginable amount of memory space.
For quite some time, the mobile space was and has been dominated by the three mobile OS giants wiz; Symbian, iOS and the Android. The world was first introduced to the immense power of smartphones by the Symbian OS. With its promise of unequaled robustness, multitasking platform and global partnerships like Nokia (major partner), Sony Ericson, Motorola; mobiles running on Symbian OS took over the entire mobile market from 2001 to 2008.
Many of the initial strategies (2) such as technology design, firm scope, and internal technical architecture optimized for smart phones coupled with its open innovation led mobiles operating on Symbian OS to retain its high market share value. Symbian OS also leveraged its support with the programmers by providing them research materials and development kits to get better acquainted with the OS software. This approach had already helped Symbian anchor itself firmly in the basic phone market.
According to the statistic reported in the IDC Research (3)Nokia phones had the highest sales from 2006-2008 making Symbian the numero uno OS for mobiles. “The popularity of Android and iOS stems from a combination of factors that the competition has struggled to keep up with. Neither Android nor iOS were the first to market with some of these features, but the way they made the smartphone experience intuitive and seamless has quickly earned a massive following,” — Ramos Llamas analyst Corporation (IDC) (4) at International Data By late 2007-2008 Symbian OS faced tough competition from Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android. Even though the first iPhone did not include multitasking, copy or paste function; it sold like hotcakes because of its speed, consistence between the apps, its capacitive touchscreen and the never seen before pinch-to-zoom function (5). The best part about the iOS on the iPhone was the accordance of the simplicity with the powerful system it provided the user, it made touch the cardinal way to interact with the applications.
The increase in sales of the iPhone gave rise to a whole new breed of mobile application developers. Apple’s iTunes is now known as one of the biggest and the most diverse market for mobile applications consisting of paid and unpaid applications. With every update of the OS, the applications and the GUI became more intuitive and safer. In fact its policy of no ‘porn’ application worked very well for the sales of the products. iOS being a propriety software is facing a stiff challenge from Google’s android open source OS. Android released its first version Android1. on the 22nd October 2008 (6). In a span of three to four years android released eight updated versions of the OS. The most notable feature of the software was the neat ‘Pull-down-notification’ window. The status bar in the android system could be pulled down to show all the email notifications, message and call alerts in an orderly manner. Also its rich integration with Google applications like multiple Gmail accounts, Google Maps and Gtalk proved to be a major success factor. What made android the best mobile OS software would probably be its ease to create and use new application.
Its mantra of letting anyone develop an application without incurring licenses or royalty cost made its value significantly higher than the propriety software’s. Android market now consists of a colossal amount of free 3rd party applications available in almost all categories (Entertainment, Business, Communication, Music& Audio, Social, Travel). The other operating system that gained due importance was Blackberry’s RIM. RIM’s popularity increased because of the push email service provided by them. Users were completely in control of their emails and contacts with a push of a button.
Another major application that pushed RIM OS up the pedestal was the free Blackberry to Blackberry messenger (BBM). This feature became popular not just with the corporate people but also with the younger generation. RIM overtook iOS phones in 2011 and gained 30. 4% of the market shares and came almost at par with Android. (7) Where technology is concerned, being primitive means death. This is what Symbian failed to understand (8). In an upcoming market where mobile OS companies were competing on a day to day basis to outdo each other and make their products more unique and user friendly, Symbian did not upgrade its software for smartphones.
One of the main reasons for Symbian’s downfall was that the graphical user interface built, wasn’t suitable for touchscreen phones. By the time Symbian realized this, the iOS,the android OS and Blackberry’s RIM OS had heavily captured the mobile market. Also the loss of their key OS carriers like Samsung, Sony Ericsson and Motorola(turned to android) also hurt Symbian’s sales. I concur with the case study wherein to increase their market value once again Symbian needs to heavily invest in advertising and marketing their products.
They need to work with their customers and find out what there are exactly looking for in reference to various applications. They need to get in some fresh perspective and revamp their User interface to work with their existing robust hardware so that they can create a device to be reckoned with. Another strategy I would propose would be to go the open source android way wherein they believe the best mobile experience will be achieved with the OS which is closest to the desktop internet experience. Just like the android and the iOS rapid innovation cycles will keep Symbian alive and thriving for a longer time.