The Smartphone Show 2005, Previewing Symbian and The Handsets

What can we expect from Symbianand its licencees at the upcoming Smartphone Show 2005? Ewan (with input from the rest of the team) takes a look and makes some guesses, and a few warnings.

Here we go again. Every year we all gather at the ExCeL centre in London’s Docklands to find out what’s been going on and what’s going to happen with Symbian OS in the next 12 months. There’ll be disappointments, shocks, and decisions that seem ludicrous. But there will also be welcome surprises, possibly official word on some new phones, and more opportunities for developers, vendors, operators and manufacturers to make more money.

The biggest news is either going to be "Sony Ericsson P1000 Breaks Cover" or "Sony Ericsson P1000 Missing Presumed Having A Good Time." While Nokia have their anticipated next generation Series 60 phones and a new model almost every quarter, the SE phones, running UIQ, have a stronger association with Symbian OS than any other, by virtue of Symbian owning UIQ (the company). An official appearance of some new hardware at The Smartphone Show is a must for the credibility of both Sony Ericsson and Symbian.

Show photo, 2004, thanks to Yellow Computing

Symbian’s credibility also rests in a large part on Symbian OS 9.1, and the third version of UIQ, being available. With UIQ 3.0 announced in February 2004, it has used up all the goodwill due to it, and then some. Unless it’s actually running on devices that attendees can hold and experience, then the industry will probably consign it to the scrap heap. I’m not asking for units to be on sale at the door, but seeing it running on actual hardware, with a shipping date, will calm the markets enough.

Symbian OS 9.1 is another tricky one, with its rewritten kernel to handle both telecomms and general handheld functions, and with a mass of new library calls (APIs) and functions. There are architectural changes that developers are going to need to get to grips with, so expect most of them to be squirrelled away in the small dark corners of technology seminars.

How much credibility should be placed in malicious programs, viruses and trojan applications is still a strong point of contention between industry commentators and software developers. But even if the risk is theoretical, OS 9.1 takes a number of steps to limit the effects of ‘evil programs’ at the API level (around 40% are restricted). The Symbian Signed program is due an overhaul to take it away from the ‘complete lock down’ it has previously threatened to implement, to something that is workable across the board, from freeware developer to massive third party software houses. Expect some not insignificant reworking of the Symbian Signed program.

SHow photo 2004, thanks to Yellow Computing

Beyond hoping that Hermione (the code name for the P1000) turns up, what can we expect from the other handset manufacturers? The short answer is not a lot. In previous years the Symbian Show has never been the place for a high profile launch, companies preferring to either run their own event or launch at a large scale event such as 3GSM. Although there may be one or two models from the smaller licencees, Nokia will hold back anything big for the Nokia Mobility Conference in November. It’s a shame Sendo left us so suddenly, because the X2 would probably have been in the stores for a month or so and been one of the star performers on the exhibition floor.

We’ll be taking a look at the show floor, some of the companies at the Smartphone Show, and what they could be showing off in our next preview.


Published by Ewan Spence at 9:27 UTC, September 27th

Section: Articles
Categories: Develop
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