Tuesday 5 February 2008

MomoLondon: Mobile Operating Systems

The Future of Mobile Operating Systems — David Wood, Symbian

“There is long term significant value in mobile operating systems”

  • In 2005 Symbian sold 1 phone every second
  • In 2007 probably sold 3 phones every second
  • Symbian has had about 70% of market historically

Reasons for increased sales:

  1. Cost going down
  2. Reliability going up (appealing to majority rather than early adopters)
    • Largest contribution to bonus is quality (count of bugs + turnaround time for fixes)
  3. Increasing stylishness
  4. Word-of-mouth
  5. Valued services available
  6. Ecosystem

Open Source is strong and powerful, but fragmentation is easy and integration is hard:

  • Mobile Linux has been been fragmenting faster than it unifies
    • 8 major, 22 minor variants

David was trying to say that mobile software is very hard, and therefore the many eyeballs of Open Source will be worse at creating a platform. I’m not sure I agree — lots of software is hard, but has been successfully created in an open source project.

He did identify that there was a problem with fragmentation from “not made here” mentality and rushing to market in mobile manufacturers. Symbian has an eviable position in that they don’t have to answer directly to product managers wanting a device on the market right now, but yet have very close relationships with many manufacturers.

He was pushing the Agile and Lean focus of Symbian. Interesting… what do they do and for how long?

Smartphones: State of the Market — Mark Burk, m:metrics

Lots of thought-provoking graphs, as usual

  • Mobile broadcast TV viewers are a very small, male group with median age of their early 30s.
  • Slightly more people who use their browsers that who made their own ringtone (48m in Europe)
  • Growth of smartphone use slow over this last year — Italy 20% compared with UK 9.9% (Nokia very strong in Italy)
  • Smartphones mostly owned by men (60-70% across all countries)
  • In UK, Windows Mobile users are older than Nokia Symbian users
  • 67% of UK smartphone owners get their handset for free (51.5% of all phones in UK)
    • Compared to only 9 (12%) in Italy
  • Satisfaction scores:
    1. Feature phone 19.4%
    2. UIQ 17.9%
    3. Nokia Symbian 12.6% (though N95 is higher than this)
    4. Windows Mobile 6.9%
  • Smartphones have over double usage of web (x4 in UK)
  • iPhone users do more than other users
  • Apple don’t have as strong brand for MP3 players in France, Germany & Italy compared to UK & US
  • High satisfaction phones:
    • iPhone
    • LG Rumor
    • T-Mobile Wing
  • Unlimited data access makes a huge difference to accessing web, search & email
    • No surprise there…
  • In the US, many smartphone users are offered unlimited data plan at point of sale
    • We appear to be missing this trick in Europe

Web Runtimes: evolving beyond the browser — David Pollington, Group R&D Vodafone

Vodafone R&D prototyping MobileScript — an extended JavaScript engine providing access to phone specifics

Trying to talk to as many players as possible to come up with something converged rather than fragmented

More targets appearing rather than less (Android, iPhone, LiMo, etc)


Code Less, Create More, Deploy Everywhere — Karsten Homann, Trolltech

Mobile Linux not just phones. Comms are becoming required across lots of markets:

  • Coffee machines :-)
  • Media players
  • NASCAR personal TV to follow race at track

Qt and Qtopia are market-leading Open Source platforms

kHTML browser (as in Safari & Nokia WebKit) is integrated into Qt latest release

Nokia want to make Qt available on Series 40 as well as Series 60

Qt APIs are C++, but can develop in Java using Jambi

Touch-based interface for a VoIP product (finally!)

Panel Discussion

What is a smartphone?

  • m:metrics — multitasking
  • Symbian — we’re interested in whole phone market

Who’s to blame for the poor showing for Nokia user interface in m:metric’s reports?

  • m:metrics — user interface is not being prioritised
  • Vodafone — “Nokia do what they like” (that’s not really true, though is it…)
    • We’ve crammed in too many things
    • It’s up to Nokia to throw away all the old baggage
  • m:metrics — if manufacturers have to tick off a 3000 point list from operators before work on UI…
  • Symbian — Nokia will be catching up fast
    • Touch will make a big improvement (Nokia historically haven’t liked touch)
    • Search within phone will appear soon
    • Symbian has a new API for UIs called screenplay (not in phones yet)

What about low-end phones? Do you see Series 60 moving to them? Will the web runtime be on cheaper phones?

  • Vodafone — if we have web runtime then it will be across all devices
    • Don’t need a lot of memory, storage or power for web-centric apps
    • though in my experience, browser apps seem to have high CPU requirements on the desktop…
  • m:metrics — hardware costs have decreased significantly
    • memory costs decreasing by 60% a year
    • low-end phones aren’t where the margins are
  • Symbian — more and more Nokia phones that would have had Series40 now have Series60
    • e.g. 6110, E50
    • Fujitsu & Mitsubishi both only make phones based on Symbian OS (even lower-end phones)
    • e.g. RakuRaku phones for senior citizens
  • Trolltech — looking for Vodafone to generate a need…
    • but Apple has shown that it’s up to the software & hardware to generate the need, not the operators
  • Vodafone — key thing for web runtime is certification
    • can’t be too restrictive
    • web apps shouldn’t prompt the user about connecting to the web…

Simon Rockman: manufacturers will carry on using ARM7 with no cache, won’t run these kind of OSs

  • Phones will keep on getting cheaper and cheaper
  • 80% of all phones are low-end, not high-end
  • Symbian: don’t accept that there will always be a group that don’t need these kind of services
    • more of the lower end phones will have this kind of functionality

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