Nokia Talks About Future of Symbian, Qt, Series 40

I’m still reeling from the unrivalled epicness and awesomeness that is Sucker Punch in IMAX (just got home – do not miss this film), but now I’m back to boring old reality where we apparently care about pieces of plastic that go beep. So, anywho. The deal between Nokia and Microsoft has many Symbian and Qt developers worry about the future of their platforms. To address these concerns, Purnima Kochikar, vice president of Forum Nokia, has published an open letter describing Nokia’s plans for Symbian, Qt, and Java for Series 40 devices. While the letter doesn’t deliver any hard dates, the transition phase to Windows Phone 7 is set to 2011/2012.

So, what can Symbian developers expect? Well, some of this stuff we already knew, such as a rather massive overhaul of the user interface, which will be delivered over-the-air to existing Symbian^3 devices, while new devices will ship with some of the updates, with the remainder also sent over-the-air. “The first major update will arrive in summer, delivering a new home screen, new flexible widgets, new icons, a faster browser, new Navbar and a fresh look and feel to Ovi Store and Ovi Maps, including integration of social media services in Ovi Maps,” Kochikar details.

Further into the future, Kochikar can’t say exactly for how long Nokia will keep supporting Symbian devices. He does say that in markets where Symbian is very popular, such as China, India, Russia and Turkey, support may last longer than in other markets, which makes sense, obviously, Nokia hopes, at least, that when current Symbian users see their phones reach their end-of-life, they will switch to Windows Phone 7. Well, you can always hope.

As for Qt, there’s a lot in the works there, according to Kochikar. “We are readying app analytics, in-app advertising, in-app purchasing, a new browser and hardware enhancements,” he explains, “There are a lot of new things for developers to take advantage of in these soon-to-be-released APIs. We are continuing to explore Qt for use in other strategic investment areas as well.”

Nokia, of course, is the company that brought mobile phones to every corner of the globe. The spotlight might be on Apple and Google right now, but their contributions to the mobile world pale into insignificance compared to the massive impact Nokia has had literally connecting people in every corner of the globe – and not just in rich western countries with some pretty-boy phones. This is still Nokia’s strength; they sell one million feature phones every day, and so far, have sold a staggering 600 million (!) Series 40 phones.

And these phones can run Java applications. “We intend to drive more innovation and improvement in Series 40 developer engagement. We are continuing to develop easy-to-use tools and software developer kits to make it simple, easier and more affordable for Java developers to work with us,” Kochikar writes, “For example, there is free signing for Java apps; the new SDK for Touch and Type UI is in the market now; plus we have plans for increased proxy browsing capabilities on our device and support for web apps.”

This does look a lot like trying to appease Symbian and Qt developers with a rotting carcass wearing a princess dress. No matter how those Finns try to dress it up, the fact of the matter is that their future – assuming Nokia has one, the cynic in me wonders – is Windows Phone 7, and not Symbian or Qt.


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