So farewell to the cheesy phone OS

The not unexpected news that Nokia have finally given up on it’s Symbian mobile phone operating system is still sad news. Symbian owes its existence to the plucky (yes I know a cliche) British firm of Psion, original develops of computer games for Sinclair and developers of the first generation of PDAs. Needing a relatively powerful operating system which allowed multi-taking, could drive a simple graphic user interface with low power consumption, Psion developed EPOC the  “Electronic Piece Of Cheese”.

EPOC was developed over ten years from the late 1980’s powering such iconic devices at least for us Brits as the Psion Series 3 PDA. EPOC had developed into a full 32bit operating system by 1997, and was renamed Symbian and in 1998 Psion itself became part of Symbian a joint venture with the major mobile phone manufacturers of the time; Motorola, Ericsson and Nokia with the aim of producing software to run mobile phones.

And the rest is history.. Symbian increasing lead by Nokia as the other phone manufactures dropped out became increasing complex both from a developer perspective but more importantly from a user perspective.. a point driven home when the iPhone hit the market.

So we come to last weeks burning platform memo, and the jump to Microsoft, a sad end to another British innovation that lost it’s way ?

Incidentally if I was in charge of a burning oil platform and had to command my crew to jump into the dark waters below, I’m not sure if would be very wise to direct everybody to get on just one of the lifeboats in the water, and really dangerous to all get on the smallest.. Still what do I know about maritime safety !

Written and submitted from home (51.425N, 0.331W)

The antidote to smartphones ?

You have to appreciate the minimalist design aesthetic of this phone from Amsterdam based  designer John Doe, but I’m not sure I could really love a phone that only made and received calls, no SMS, email, camera or heaven forbid Location Based Services !!

I tried to use an old Ericsson T28 as my “home” mobile for a while, because I thought it was cool and had a certain retro chic about it… but I missed email, maps, surfing the web too much.

Once you have gone smartphone, there is no going back..

Written and submitted from home (51.425N, 0.331W)

mashup* – Being Location Aware Event


I am going to be speaking at the  mashup* – Being-Location-Aware Event in London on the 19th March, an event which I hope will really capture the current excitement around using  location in both mobile and desktop applications.

After many false starts, your location is finally easily available to application developers allowing them to create a range of applications which use where you are, as a key element of context providing more relevant information and services to the user.

There are of course still many areas to be explored, around business models, technology platforms and privacy, and this event I’m sure will provide a great forum to continue the debate.

Written and submitted from home, using my home 802.11 network.

Palm, Google Earth and storytelling..

I often talk about the use of Google Earth for storytelling, illustrating a story with its geographical context displayed interactively is very powerful, to see what I mean just watch the first few minutes of the launch event for the new Palm Pre at last weeks CES show.

BTW Its great to see Palm that seem to be getting their original mojo back, remember how cool the original Palm V was..

Written and submitted from the Google Office, London.

The Mobile Future

We can expect to see numerous stories from Barcelona this week as the The Mobile World Congress 3GSM as was takes place, and is the focus of much of the industry interest. As we all increasingly access the network online, shows like this are becoming more important, the battleground for market share is moving from the desktop to mobile devices and there is an opportunity for new players to flourish in hopefully a more open marketplace than there has been up until now.

Mobile World Congress logo

Look for Hardware vendors to try and innovate independently from the network operators, look for a mobile device OS battle between established closed platforms and new open stacks (e.g. Google’s Android) and look for the network operators to try and hang on to their position on providing value added services beyond just network provision. LBS is becoming more mainstream, although it still needs to make the jump beyond providing maps on your mobile to provide context to all mobile services delivered by your mobile.

The iPhone has had limited market impact in Europe it seems, although how to design a mobile device from the point of usability and been redefined, and hopefully other manufactures must take note, just try and get someone who has used an iPhone for a week, to go back to Windows Mobile or Symbian.

The mobile industry is more dynamic this year than is has even been, the stakes for industry are much higher and hopefully the customer will benefit as ultimately mobile services should be an incredibly useful part of our lives, and will be if the industry can match the openness of the web in general.

So I will be an avid reader of all the news coming out of Barcelona this week.

Written and submitted from home, using my home 802.11 network.