Nokia + open source Symbian: too little, too late

TechCrunch: Nokia Acquires Symbian – Goes 3. Hear that sound? That’s the sound of Fake Steve Jobs just itching to skewer somebody, but since he’s on vacation I’ll do it instead.

Make no mistake: this is a defensive move by Nokia in response to the iPhone and Android, not an offensive one. Five years ago, an open source OS for smartphones might really have made the market. Now Nokia’s not even calling the tune any more: with Motorola, Samsung and LG eating them away on the low end, and RIM, the Windows Mobile folks, and Apple eating them away on the high end, pretty soon there’s not going to be much left in the middle.

I enjoyed the Symbian phone that I used from 2003 to 2005, but Symbian didn’t move quickly enough with the OS and it became stale. It doesn’t smell any better now. When you have unnamed senior execs inside Nokia calling Symbian a POS, you’ve got problems.

And what about units? Those 291 million handsets you sold in Q1? They’re legacy products. Apple sold 6 million in the iPhone’s first year as a brand new market entrant even without the benefit of enterprise mail integration or independent developers. Now granted, you can sit fat and happy on your 291 million units shipped, or you can reflect on the fact that you shipped 100 million of them in the last 18 months, and the other 100 million are in all likelihood no longer in use since your European customer base replaces its phones every 12 to 25 months, and the US customer base every 17.6. Is your market really still growing, or did you just sell replacement Symbian handsets to your existing customers?

And I haven’t even talked about Android yet–it’s probably a trainwreck, but it’s from Google so it’s going to exert some market pressure on you too.

And your developers are talking crap about the OS, too. And I can’t blame them. Which would you rather write apps for: an OS that’s forked three ways, requires you to use a crippled version of C++ with weird string handling practices and proprietary error handling, and needs a downlevel version of Visual Studio, all of a sudden the iPhone’s development frameworks and XCode look like nirvana.

So, guys: if your competition is a competitor who’s locked up the enterprise and a user centric market innovator, I’m afraid that open sourcing the OS (the POS OS) is not going to save the company. Maybe if there were already a bunch of really talented individual developers working on creating a great mobile experience, but guess what? They’re on Apple’s platform now, not yours.

WWDC Part III: iPhone 3G

Addressing the main challenges: 3G, more countries, more affordable. Camera still on the back (no live videoconferencing on the iPhone), but the headphone port is not recessed so that’s a plus.

I knew it: the speed test is back. Now we’re not benchmarking Mac Pro towers against Dells on Photoshop, we’re playing mobile web browsers against each other.

It’s got GPS!

It’s $199 for an 8 MB phone! $299 for a 16 MB one! Very very cool, he said weeping remembering how much I paid for mine. The cost of early adoption.

Keynote is over. There will be news about Snow Leopard later today, but that’s enough news for now.

WWDC Part II: MobileMe

Phil Schiller announces MobileMe: “Exchange for the rest of us.” This ties up a long standing question about the MobileMe trademark that’s been around since 2006. Cloud-based synching for email, calendar, addresses. With rich Ajaxy goodness on the browser experience. Looks great. It’s supposed to be on according to Phil, but that page shows that it used to be owned by a site that’s now called Snappville from where I’m accessing it. I think the DNS changes haven’t propagated to the East Coast yet.

MobileMe replaces .Mac. We hardly knew ye. Sniff.

WWDC Liveblogging the livebloggers

It’s hot here in Burlington, MA, pushing 98, but it must be even hotter in the Moscone Center with the liveblogging that’s going on right now. I’ve been looking at Engadget, CNet, Gizmodo, and TechCrunch for the updates. So far TechCrunch is up and down like a drunken sailor and Gizmodo is the fastest and most responsive.

News so far: there will be a 10.6 called “Snow Leopard,” and Steve’s gonna update him some iPhone.

iPhone points of interest: reiterating the enterprise features announced when the SDK was announced, including Exchange support, native Cisco integration. I note that all the liveblogging sources describe these as features of the iPhone 2.0 software, not the iPhone 2.0 itself; this holds out hope that my 1st gen model is good for at least one upgrade.

The SDK demo includes a feature called Core Location. I don’t even want to think how many business plans in my entrepreneurship class at Sloan back in 2001 imagined a similar feature for mobile phones, breathless with the knowledge that the government was going to require carriers to be able to triangulate handsets down to a few hundred meters to support 911 calls. Mobile dating service…on your handset! With…. contextually relevant ads!!!$! Maybe this iteration will give us some more imaginative apps for location technology.

I love that Sega is the first ISV to demo an app here. Again: iPhone is mobile gaming platform.

eBay mobile client: yawn. Facebook and Bloglines made more impressive mobile apps just by working in the browser, guys. You had 95 days on the SDK and this is all you could build?

Loopt demo. Regarding my note above… no, not really, unless you count integration with Google maps.

The TypePad client looks interesting. Wonder if it’ll work with WordPress?

The AP iPhone client is kind of brilliant in a way nothing else here is–because it not only sends down AP content, it allows you to send it up! Crowdsourcing the news at its finest.

I kind of like the piano simulator from Moo Cow Music. Their site is down but there’s a YouTube video of their demo (thanks, Google Cache).

(All these demos, btw, are called “demonstrating momentum.” I’m waiting for them to trot out that SalesForce demo again just to drive the point home to Wall Street.)

First new feature: central (Apple provided) push notification for all background apps. How well will that scale if Apple can’t even keep Webmail for .Mac running? Saying “it’ll scale” without details is a little sketchy in the post-Twitter world.

Free update for current iPhone owners = good.