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You are here: the::unwired - forum / Thoughts / THOUGHT: Why is Symbian failing in the United States? (Inkl. thought::cast) Topic closed! This topic automatically closed 30 days after first posting.
#1

Alfredo Padilla

Former Editor

From: USA
Registered: 10.07.2006
Posts: 85

Website

No one has benefited more from the rapid growth of the smartphone market worldwide than Symbian. The OS currently holds over 70% of global market share for smartphones. Most smartphone consumers living in the United States though would be shocked by that number. Very simply, in the stores, on a daily basis, you  don\'t see Symbian smartphones. Of the four major U.S. carriers, only Cingular carries any Symbian smartphones (2). In contrast there are 10 Windows Mobile smartphones offered by all 4 carriers, and more on the way soon. As an aficionado of mobile technology, and one who is often impressed by the features offered in the latest generation of Symbian smartphones, I have to ask myself why is this the case? Why is Symbian failing in the U.S.?

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#2

the Mobile Phone Fan

I'm too lazy to register

because good Americans buy American operating systems like Palm OS and Windows Mobile. Symbian is not even British now - it is Finnish-Swedish. The bottom line is: Symbian is a big failure in USA - remote 3rd after Windows Mobile and Palm OS, and new Treo smartphones will ensure that it will not change.


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#3

THE SUPPORTER

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LOL! big_smile Jacek, you are too funny! big_smile


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#4

jbelkin

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The palm is acceptable as a mobile OS - it's not perfect and it's no ipod oS but it's mostly functional and runs without much battery power.

Mobile PC/Q/MS is well, very MIcrosoftian ... after 9 years, you get better WORD & PPT functionality with a palm add-on than you do with an MS phone. Frankly, it's crap ... after NINE freakin' years! (Q phone - takes three menu levels to turn on the SPEAKERPHONE ... first menu to find it - the "obvioius" PROFILE menu ...)

Symbian is no better or worse than the MS OS.

The reason it has no traction - middling OS - if you intend, it has to be better than the other middling OS, the one from MS ...

The winner by default is the 9 year old OS updated slightly - Palm.


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#5

Alfredo Padilla

Former Editor

From: USA
Registered: 10.07.2006
Posts: 85

Website

I'm not going to argue about which OS is better because I think that's very subjective and frankly this article isn't about which OS is better. I will say that I don't think Palm will be developed further and as such it will become obsolete fairly soon.

#6

Mark Jenkins

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Alfredo, et. al.,

These are all good points, IF Symbian was even available to U.S. consumers.  The question that needs to be answered though is why U. S. carriers don't even make Symbian an option for their customers.  It may have been a technical issue 4 or 5 years ago.  It could have been an end-user demand issue as well.  The Mobile Phone Fan takes a good swing, but still misses the ball.  While Americanism plays a huge factor, it isn't the consumer buying that is to blame (remember, U. S. consumers really don't have the choice to buy Symbian phones).  I believe that today the issue lies with the developer communities and Symbian's marketing to that audience. 

Most Symbian developers are talented and innovative, yet small, Europian shops.  Why would Janne take a chance writing code for a particularly U. S. application when he knows that the U. S. buys fewer Symbian phones than he sells copies of his applications in Usjoli, Finland alone?  Also, does Janne's shop even have the cultural knowledge to write a particularly appealing application for the America's?

On the other hand (or side of the pond), why would Jack write a program for Symbian?  Heck, Jack gave more free copies of his latest application to his Mom yesterday than T-Mobile USA purchased Symbian handsets in the last 3 years.  He is already overburdened writing code for Palm OS 5, Windows Mobile 5 Smartphone, Windows Mobile 5 Pocket PC, BlackBerry, Java, and maybe even Sidekick. 

There is little incentive for Janne or Jack to write for the U. S. Symbian market.  While Symbian has tried to woo the big developers in the U. S. with free developer kits and all of the other things every OS delivers to its developer community, it needs to do 2 things that seem counter-intuitive.

1) It needs to stop advertising that a phone has Symbian in it when marketing it to a U. S. carrier.  The Symbian label moves the phone from being a cool, hip, functional phone to a "smartphone" in the carriers eye's.  Now the carrier doesn't compare it to Samsung or LG when it makes a buying decision, it compares it to BlackBerry and Microsoft.  Regardless of which OS is better, BlackBerry and Microsoft will kick Symbians butt in the mindshare battle every day in the U. S..  Symbian needs to make a stealthy penetration of the U. S. phone market to establish a beach head.

2) Symbian needs to use the same stealth to develop it's own U. S. developer network.  Don't put up huge booths at trade shows, put up a small 10 foot by 10 foot booth at an X-Games event.  Don't put out huge application directories that include gynocological devices (sorry, but true), buy some small college programming clubs free pizza for a semester.  Don't fly Nokia and Sony Ericsson executives to U. S. events, fly Janne and his fellow developers to Dallas for a Cowboys game, or Cheyenne for a rodeo, or Minneapolis for a walk around the Mall of America.  Let Janne see how U. S. consumers use their phones, and what they are lacking. 

Get the OS into the carrier's hands so that U. S. consumers have a choice.  Then give those consumers some compelling applications.  Symbian should stop telling the U. S. how big it is, and should instead let the consumers tell the carriers how cool it is.

Mark


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#7

Gary

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A good analysis but you could have saved yourself the time and effort by simply asking Nokia. Over the past three years I have regularly inquired of Nokia's management why their offerrings in the US are relatively slim compared with those provided to the EU. Why are the features of the models they provide to the US so inferior and outdated compared to those of the non-USA models? Every year, regardless of any management changes at Nokia, their response has been the same: "Nokia does not consider the US to be one of their target markets."

In pop culture there is a current phrase that appropriately represents Nokia & Symbian's position towards the US markets: "they're just not that into the US".

Americans recognize this, and have turned to the competition which shows more interest in the US markets.

Technological advantages aside there is no wisdom in pursuing a person or a company who is just not into you, thus the US favors manufacturers like HTC,LG, Motorola, Palm & Microsoft who recognize that the US markets are pivotal to their future and demonstrate this by accepting the risk of supporting OS' and applications which also depend upon the US markets.


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