The long-time Finnish maker of mobile phones, Nokia, announced today that they are preparing to reduce their workforce, according to Reuters. The cuts will start with 800 in Nokia's home market of Finland. Overall, the company expects to eliminate 1800 jobs worldwide. This total number was announced back in October, but it was not clear at the time where the cuts would come from.
Observers suspect that many of the job losses are due to the de-emphasis of Symbian development. The layoffs are expected to go into effect in January. These employees aren't being completely cut loose, though. Nokia has agreed to provide severance packages equal to 5-15 months of salary. While some of Nokia's recent decisions leave us scratching our heads, it's never good news to hear about tech layoffs. Do you think this says anything about Nokia's future?
Google's Andy Rubin Tweeted today that the company is seeing over 300,000 phone activations each day. This figure is higher than Apple and RIM both. It is even in the ballpark of the highest numbers Nokia have ever announced for the Symbian platform. Let's also remember that all these Android phones are certifiable smartphones. Some Symbian handsets are inexpensive commodity devices.
To put this another way, Google is seeing nearly 10 million new Android activations per month. Apple is currently riding high on 14.4 million new iPhone activations in an entire quarter. It was only a few months ago that Google told us they were seeing about 200k activations per day. A 50% rise in that time is astounding. At this rate, Android may soon own the lion's share of the mobile OS market.
Nokia likes to remind us that Symbian is the most popular Smartphone OS on the planet, but let’s face it, they aren’t fooling anyone. The open source operating system has been growing increasingly irrelevant in a post iPhone / Android world, and today the very foundation that was designed to protect the Symbian ecosystem is dealing what many would consider a death blow.
Starting on December 17th the Symbian Foundation will be shutting down all their websites which include access to the source code, bug fixes, and documentation for the OS. This effectively puts control of Symbian’s fate back in the hands of Nokia, which if history repeats itself probably isn’t a good thing considering every other major manufacturer has abandoned it.
Symbian will remain an open platform which means technically anyone could host the code and documentation if they wanted to, but I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you. We’ll let you know if we find anymore nails to drive into the coffin in the coming months.
Maybe it's time to start taking Nokia seriously as a viable smartphone player. Much of the battle comes down to the app infrastructure, and according to Nokia, the Ovi Store now kicks out 3 million downloads a day.
Nokia says the number of daily downloads is indicative of ever-increasing developer support, but those aren't the only digits Nokia is tossing around. The mobile phone maker said users of Ovi now top 165 million people across more than 190 countries, with a growth rate of 250,000 new users every day. And of those who visit the store, 90 percent end up downloading an app.
The company claims that more than 400,000 developers have signed up to Forum Nokia in the past 12 months, 92 of which have seen their respective apps downloaded at least one million times.
Say what you want about how Nokia's N8 smartphone stacks up to Apple's iPhone 4, but at a minimum, the two devices share one trait in common: Bill of Materials (BOM).
According to iSuppli, the N8's BOM comes out to $187.47. If you want to split hairs over four cents, then technically Apple's iPhone 4 costs more to produce. Otherwise, the two are identical in terms of component parts.
"The N8's BOM shows Nokia is targeting the product squarely at the touchscreen smartphone segment now dominated by the iPhone," said Andrew Rassweiler, director, principal analyst and teardown services manager, iSuppli. "Although the two phones differ markedly in key areas, including th camera and core silicon, both are designated to hit similar production cost budgets."
While the costs are nearly identical, the parts in each device are not. The N8, for example, makes use of a CMOS sensor with a 12-megapixel resolution, whereas the iPhone 4 goes up to 5 megapixels. At $31.08, the camera subsystem is the third most costly part of the N8.
The N8's display ranks as the most expensive piece of hardware. It uses an AMOLED screen, while the iPhone 4 comes with an 3.5-inch LCD screen using In-Plane Switching (IPS) technology.
Nokia picked a heck of a time to start shipping its C7 smartphone. As the second Symbian 3 device in Nokia's stable, the C7 is a noteworthy follow-up to the N8, only all the attention is currently being paid to Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 devices.
Nevertheless, the smartphone world keeps turning, and the C7 hopes to turn heads with its 3.5-inch active-matrix OLED glass touchscreen display. It also comes with an 8MP camera, Bluetooth 3.0, 8GB of memory, and oodles of social networking functionality baked in.
Users have access to multiple home screens to receive live updates from their favorite online portals, like Facebook and Twitter, as well as some specific email accounts (Ovi Mail, Yahoo Mail, and Windows Live Hotmail).
"Designed specifically with the style-conscious consumer in mind, the Nokia C7 also brings excellent social networking abilities, making it perfect for people who want to check in and stay up to date," Jo Harlow, head of smartphones at Nokia, said in a statement.
Samsung is reportedly prepping memory cards based on the Universal Flash Storage (UFS) standard for launch in the first half of 2011. According to Digitimes, the Korean electronics major is working closely with fellow members of the JEDEC Solid State Technology Association, including Nokia and Texas Instruments, on standardization efforts for the next-generation spec expected to supplant current flash memory card formats. The JEDEC Solid State Technology Association is scheduled to publish the UFS specification before the end of this year. The first crop of UFS cards will boast data transfer rates of up to 300Mbps.
Samsung's mobile strategy has always been multifaceted. The company has built phones running on software from Microsoft, Google, and now their own Bada OS. So it's no surprise that Sammy has finally decided to make some space and give Symbian the boot. Samsung sent out an email to all their registered Symbian developers that laid out in no uncertain terms their plans to shut down all Symbian development by year's end.
With even Nokia working on MeeGo as an alternative mobile OS, things are looking grim for Symbian. It is possible that Samsung could remain a member of the Symbian Foundation, but they would not be contributing. Do you think Symbian will continue shrinking, or is a turnaround in store?
What if you could go back in time and beat Apple to market with an iPhone device. Would you do it? Every smartphone maker on the planet would say 'yes,' including Nokia, which would probably like to take a mulligan on saying 'no' when it had the chance.
According to a fascinating report in The New York Times, research engineers at Nokia prepped a prototype of an Internet-ready, touchscreen handset with a big display a few years before Apple launched its iPhone. Who knows if it would have been a success, because management killed the project on fears that it would flop and cost the company too much money, claims former employee Ari Hakkarainen.
"It was very early days, and no one really knew anything about the touchscreen's potential," Hakkarainen said. "And it was an expensive device to produce, so there was more risk involved for Nokia. So management did the usual. They killed it."
During that same year (2004), Nokia also rejected an early design for an online app store, another decision that ultimately hurt Nokia in the long run. Fast forward to today and Nokia is playing catch up, not just with Apple, but with every major player in the smartphone market.
"I am sure there are things we could have done better and innovations we missed," said Arja Souminen, a spokeswoman for Nokia. "But that happens to all companies. We have been very successful with some other innovations."
Taking shots at Nokia’s ailing smartphone platform Symbian is almost too easy these days, and it would seem another hardware manufacturer is announcing that it wants off the bandwagon in favor of Android. Sony Ericsson has been developing Android based phones for quite some time now, but many were wondering just how much longer they would continue to support more than one mobile OS, and now we know. “We have no plans for the time being to develop any new products to the Symbian Foundation standard or operating system,” Aldo Liguori, a spokesman for the London-based company, said by telephone today. Liguori confirmed remarks made by Chief Technology Officer Jan Uddenfeldt to Swedish technology newspaper Ny Teknik.
Symbian continues to hold onto a tenuous lead in the smartphone market, but its share has declined from 51 percent to just over 41 percent over a one year period. With the loss of Sony and Samsung the Symbian Foundation’s only high profile partner is Nokia who for one reason or another continues to use the OS to power its high end smartphones. To be fair Sony hasn’t formally withdrawn from the Symbian Foundation, but with no new products being planned it sounds more likely this will evolve into a common law divorce, a separation without all the messy paperwork.
Symbian keeps falling into the same category as RIM, powerful but faltering. What would it take for these guys to get back in the game? Let us know what you think after the jump.