I don’t really have time to write anything proper, but I just wanted to weigh in quick on the whole Nokia-buying-Symbian-and-open-sourcing-it discussion. It’s stupid, Nokia should have gone with the Maemo platform as the future. Here’s why:
- Symbian is THE MOST developer hostile system I have ever worked with. I’ve done plenty of embedded systems development, down to 8051 firmware work when the need called for it. And nothing has ever made me more frustrated and confounded than trying to develop for Symbian. When compared to systems like the iPhone and now Android, doing “mobile development” by programming for Symbian feels like doing “web development” by programming CGI scripts in OS/360 assembly. Symbian is an old clunker of a platform compared to what’s out there now, and like it or not, having sexy tools and a cool image attracts developers. Open sourcing Symbian will help out a bit in terms of the image, but not nearly enough.
- They’re already helping out Google by validating the whole “open source mobile platform” idea (and in the process turning themselves from market leader into follower by the way, nice job there!), why not benefit from an open source platform that already exists? The reason open source rocks is that you have tons of developers spending lots of time combing through the code and fixing things, making them better, grokking and sharing. Symbian has what? A bunch of existing developers, many of whom have already thrown up their hands in disgust and fled the platform. And…. nothing. Linux brings a whole set of good tools. Compilers and code analysis tools (compilers that might actually support using exceptions in C++ even!), emulators (some that you might actually be able to use to access the internet from an emulated session with, and not even need a loopback serial cable to do it), existing libraries, developers familiar with the internals, etc.
- They already have a great developer base behind Maemo, especially considering the fact that they haven’t put the hardware that everyone keeps asking for in it (cellular interface), developers keep churning out great stuff for the platform. If they were just to ignite the existing interest and open up the possibilities for the existing developers by bringing Maemo to more devices they would be way further ahead the curve than opening up Symbian puts them.