Gartner calls Symbian project a failure

IT research firm Gartner has lashed out at Nokia’s Symbian project, calling it an open source failure.

Most handset manufacturers are aandonding or have already abandoned Symbian in favour of other operating systems, primarily Android. Sony Ericsson ditched Symbian recently for Android and Windows Phone 7, while Samsung already left it behind when it coupled with Android and its own Bada some time back. 

Gartner found that very few of the Symbian Foundation’s members are still supporting it. ZTE, Sharp, and Compal are still there, but Gartner dismissed them as not being trend-setting industry leaders. It also went on to relegate the Symbian Foundation as a whole as not being the “powerhouse of innovation” that it should have been and what an OS really needs.

“The brave Symbian open source experiment has failed,” said Nick Jones, vice-president and analyst at Gartner. He said that Symbian is in a “desperate state”, but the Symbian Foundation is “unable or unwilling” to understand how bad things really are.

One of the biggest flaws for Symbian is the user experience, Jones found. He said that Symbian 3 promised a better user experience but failed to deliver. He said that many of the new phones packing Symbian have great specs, but the user experience is extremely lacking.

Jones forecast that as Symbian finances drop due to Foundation members leaving in their droves it will become even more difficult for Symbian to succeed, which will push the financial burden of the project back onto Nokia itself.

There are a number of possible futures for Symbian, according to Jones. These include abandoning it altogether or absorbing it back into Nokia, since Nokia does most of the work on it anyway. Jones believes that abandoning it altogether would be unwise, labelling it as “sick” instead of dead. 

He said that there’s still room for it to compete with Android by undercutting prices since Symbian can run on lower spec devices. He also said that Ovi would have a difficult time surviving without Symbian, which means closing shop could endanger a wider range of Nokia’s services.

Jones suggested that Nokia take over the reigns again and abandon the Symbian Foundation instead of Symbian as a whole. He said the Foundation adds “approximately zero value” and that Symbian needs “agility and vision”, not the committees and councils that the Foundation holds. He also said that Symbian 4 needs to be “nothing less than outstanding” and that Nokia needs to act very quickly if it is to rescue its operating system from obscurity and ultimate demise.