Sony ditches Symbian

The mobile operating system loses another supporter; now it's up to Nokia to keep Symbian alive.

Sony Ericsson announced today that it's cutting the cord with the Symbian operating system, a move that may put the platform on life support. Sony Ericsson's withdrawal of support for the mobile OS means that the only major player left building phones for the platform is Nokia, which is currently in troubled financial waters.

Some analysts haven't closed the lid on Symbian's casket yet, the Financial Times reports today. They calculate that Symbian could survive if Nokia makes some changes to the system. But the Finns have a tough row to hoe with Apple's iOS and Google's Android operating systems steadily gaining market share and Microsoft ready to enter the fray with elbows flying with the reboot of its mobile platform, Windows Phone 7.

In its announcement that it was deserting Symbian, Sony Ericsson said it wanted to focus on making Android phones, as well as handsets for Microsoft's WP7, the Financial Times reports.

Symbian is still the most popular operating system in the world but it has been unable to stem significant encroachment to its market position by Apple and Google, primarily because Nokia has been unable to deliver a product that can compete with the technology in the handsets of its foes.

Symbian is ostensibly an open operating system but Nokia has always played a big role in determining the direction of the platform. With Sony Ericsson's departure, a fine point has been put on that fact and some observers believe it may be time for Nokia to pull in the reins on the operating system.

One of the biggest questions before the current top dog at Nokia, Stephen Elop, is whether to seize control of all Symbian development in order to accelerate improvements that can make the system more competitive in the market, an analyst with CCS Insight, Ben Wood, told the Financial Times.

Sony Ericsson's abandonment of Symbian and its commitment to WP7 is no doubt good news for the crew at Microsoft. If Symbian goes the way of TRS-DOS, it will be one less operating system WP7 will have to compete with for market share.

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John P. Mello Jr.

PC World (US online)
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