Is Symbian any good?

Nokia Symbian smart phone, from CNETIn all the talk about Nokia acquiring Symbian, setting up a foundation to support it and scouring the world for sales, one key question remains unanswered.

Is the software any good?

Symbian is a Real Time Operating System for managing telephone functions. It is just a little smarter than a toaster. The phone’s functions are not integrated and the data applications are on the level of tweets.

But that is not the market. That is not what people want. People want an Internet terminal they can hold in their hands, one capable of easily handling basic Internet functions. Like e-mail, and browsing, and organizing real file downloads.

Every day its virtual monopoly remains on such devices, Apple gains share, and that share gains legs. Not just in terms of long-term contracts, but in terms of trained users.

I am now starting to see iPhones behind the counters at my YMCA, held by people whose salaries can’t be very high. That means the device has already moved into the sweet spot of the mass market, the heart of the s-curve.

Can Symbian deal with that threat? Because from the point of view of pure functionality, the Android can. LiMo can. The Blackberry can. Even Windows Mobile can. Whether they will is another question.

Symbian can’t.

I don’t think we have time to “train” this toaster into being a Real Boy. I don’t think Nokia had the money to do that, either, which is why they threw it into this open source foundation.

This is beginning to look a lot like they want to make a better buggy whip when the market is already buying cars. Why is even looking at Symbian not a waste of my time?

And don’t tell me it’s because they’re the leader in buggy whips.

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