Elop breathes life into Symbian OS

Just when it seemed that the Symbian OS was dead and buriedNokia supremo Stephen Elop  said that it will be given a further five years lease of life.

Although Nokia has dedicated its long term future to Windows for its mobile phone software to boost flagging sales, it appears that the firm still holds a soft spot for the much maligned Symbian operating system.

Speaking with Nokia Conversations about Nokia’s new strategy it was revealed that there was not a lot new about it, unless you consider sticking with a product that lit the fire for a certain “burning platform” is a fresh strategy.

“Even as we go through a transition towards our primary smartphone platform, Windows Phone, you will see that continued investment,” Elop said.

“And I know there’s been questions about – so how long does that continue -and we’ve now been very clear about that, that software updates to Symbian devices are expected until at least 2016.”

Elop added that “there’s a long history still to be paved for Symbian in the future”, sending a shudder across the mobile industry.

This will mean that the Nokia will be continuing to offer its support, apps and give software updates to the Symbian system, with a focus likely to be on low end handsets.

So while there was a lot of noise about making large changes to a firm which was seemingly in total disarray when Elop arrived it appears that Nokia will be continuing with one of the main problems until at least 2016, and indeed longer.

However, Ovum analyst Tony Cripps is not surprised by the announcement and believes that the decision to stick with Symbian makes is worthwhile as long as it is making money for the firm.

“There is nothing flawed with the Symbian OS,” Cripps told TechEye, “and it certainly makes sense to continue with the operating system for low end phones as long as Nokia is able to operate with it making a profit.

“With the transition to Windows phones being a gradual one there will be an overlap and so Nokia could certainly not easily cut off its investment in Symbian quickly, so looking to 2016 and beyond makes sense.”

While Nokia was struggling to let go of the past Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer talked yesterday about how the firm is looking forward to working on a range of “next generation” mobile devices as they pair work on the first collaboration to be released later this year.

The partnership between the two firms was largely based upon the Windows Phone software, however Ballmer has now hinted that Microsoft is hoping to have a greater say in the hardware of future handsets.

“The race is on and we continue to push Windows to a variety of form factors,” Ballmer, who today received a vote of confidence from the Microsoft board, said at a conference in  New Delhi.