back to article Nokia locks* out Symbian staffers

Nokia staff working on Symbian development in Cambridge were sent home yesterday, while the London crowd sloped off early after being told that 300 will lose their jobs. Nokia's decision to focus on Qt as a development environment has already been felt in Nokia's Symbian team. With around 300 up for redundancy and the …


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  1. Rogerborg

    Been a long time coming

    Historically, Symbian has never been a compelling and efficient platform for developers. Developing for it today is still a pain compared to iOS, Android or even WinCE (or whatever they're calling it this week). Even the foul bitter BREW is now easier to swallow.

    At the same time, Symbian has had an horrific amount of money spunked on it. The dev team has (or had) hordes of cuntractors gouging £500+ a day while twiddling their thumbs and waiting for the demoralised, high-churn permies to produce requirements for features that nobody would use.

    So farewell Symbian, you won't be missed.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      Historically, Symbian was the ONLY platform aside from WinCE.

      iOS and Android have no history to speak of.

      Certainly Symbian has its shortcomings, but let's please note forget it has made quite a contribution as well...

    2. Anonymous Coward


      I certainly agree with this. Some years ago I looked into C++ development on Symbian, it really is pretty awful. I settled on Java instead and have written a lot since.

      Since Sun blocked Java on mobile except J2ME (see the Android lawsuit from Oracle...) what they should do/have done is use a .NET runtime (such as Mono). That way you can target Windows Phone 7 and Symbian with much the same skill set as well as desktop OS's.

      Advertise that to devs along with the easy ability to install apps from anywhere and I'd imagine you'd get more support - afterall, if you can use the same skills in multiple places you're more likely to target a "minor" (as perceived) platform (even if it's just in addition to others) than if you had to learn from scratch. And since the underlying .NET technology is license free they'd save some cash too...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Been a long time coming

      "The dev team has (or had) hordes of cuntractors gouging £500+ a day while twiddling their thumbs and waiting for the demoralised, high-churn permies to produce requirements for features that nobody would use."

      If the Nokia contractor (cuntractor, heh!) gravy train were halted tomorrow, everyone would surely get more work done, people could be paid bonuses *and* Nokia could still post a profit.

      I don't remember what the various high-profile talking heads had to say about contractors (or whether they were still trying to reconcile their exile from Nokia in terms of "Finnish values"), but that's the classic big company disease that's most easily cured in Nokia's case. Sadly, I think there's some kind of "full employment (in Finland)" mentality with resulting suckage from the big teat that seems to dominate parts of the Nokia hierarchy.

    4. Coruscating Frenzy
      Thumb Up

      Worth the wait ...

      As one who was once one of those demoralised high-churn permies (and I'm not being sarcastic - I think that is a very apt description) I feel vindicated. All the grief handed out to anyone who even hinted that the Symbian Way was not the Best Way, and here we see chickens coming home to roost.

      Any software development organisation that commited such stupendous amounts of resource to debugging and repairing releases couldn't keep going on like that forever. I'm surprised it lasted as long as it did. Anyway, I left a long time ago, amid much merriment and glee, and the feelings of rancour and relief were mutual and reciprocated I'm sure :-)

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      A relative of mine has a partner who used to be a contract programmer for Nokia ... god knows how he managed it.. gift of the gab, I think - his technical knowledge and skills were distinctly lacking when I tried asking him for some advice once.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not entirely surprising

    Now for them to also release the symbian hardware support source code for the symbian handsets they're abandoning and the enthousiasts could get some use out of their grande but so far pointless open sourcing gestures.

  3. Stuart Moore

    Not good news

    Hard to hear - my sympathies to my former colleagues there. Definitely a lot of talent in the company.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Title is a little disingenuous

    We weren't locked out, but we were told that nobody expected us to do any work yesterday and we were free to do whatever we liked. Unsurprisingly, many people went home.

    At no point was the door locked though.

  5. Kurgan

    But what will Nokia do, now?

    Apart from being sorry for the people who lost their jobs, I'm trying to imagine what Nokia will do now.

    They are abandoning Symbian, still they have just shipped the N8 to the stores, which is Symbian-based. So, is the N8 already dead?

    They have abandoned Maemo, too, as far as I can tell, since after the N900 no other Maemo phone was produced, and the N900 is not getting updates anymore, while it would desperately need them, since the last one made the responsiveness worse, and still has no MMS, no *#xx# network codes, and lots of various little bugs.

    What will they do? Do they think that they can actually go on with this Meego that is still vapourware, while everyone else already has a platform? (win, android, ios) Do they think that peole will buy, about one year from now, the first meego phone, knowing that it's a beta-quality phone like the N900 is now, and fearing that Nokia will change its mind AGAIN, abandon it, and go for some new software extravaganza, like they did for the other great fails in Nokia history? (N97 and N900 are the latest, but we can remember the Taco-Phone and others too)

    I suppose that in about two years we will see Nokia die.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      RE: But what will Nokia do, now?

      You are grossly misinformed. Nokia is not abandoning Symbian, simply most (all?) app development will be in Qt, so Symbian and Meego can share the same apps. And PR 1.3 is coming to N900 very soon (although, as always, Nokia doesn't tell exactly when), it will among other things allow dual booting to Meego. If you want MMS support, install fMMS, it's in the official repos. I'll grant the hardware (the processor and memory mainly) isn't quite enough for heavy multitasking - but overclocking is trivial. Nokia never intended the N900 to be a mass market product and they've been quite forthcoming about this - I bought it expecting an ARM-based Linux computer with some phone functionality, and that's exactly what I got. I'm pleased with mine, but would never recommend it to Joe Average.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        RE: But what will Nokia do, now?

        "Nokia never intended the N900 to be a mass market product"

        Yes. While other companies just delivered actual products, Nokia's executives dithered, presumably while a bunch of die-hard Symbian and "old school" proprietary-Nokia people whispered bad things about Linux in their ears, and the people responsible for the Nxxx-series software got to arrange their virtual furniture just so, only to throw most of it all away, kick a bunch of interested onlookers out of the room (or up the bottom), and then start rearranging again from scratch, as if they were doing a decade-long methodology experiment (or performance art piece).

        And let us not forget the condescending "we do not need to be told about how to run a business by people wanting more 'open' technology than is good for them" remarks by people who clearly do need to be told about how to run a business, as well as needing to clue up on openness, too.

      2. Kurgan

        Nice to know that N900 is not dead

        I'd be very happy when (and if) my N900 will get a proper firmware update. I am a Linux sysadmin, so I'm not an average phone user, and in fact I have told my friends not to get an N900. I really don't mind if I have no MMS, I understand that the N900 is a computer more than a phone. But as a device, while it has nice hardware, it lacks proper software. Lots of standard programs (email, for example) are painfully slow and also miss the workarounds to avoid such a slowliness (email in Symbian allows for a limit on how may headers to get from the imap server, that makes it limited but fast). Bluetooth often disconnects from my car's handsfree, where other phones (N95 and other) worked flawlessly.

        I really hope that Nokia will be able to produce better (less buggy) and faster software, add functionality that were common in its previous phones, like voice dial, for example. But I can't see it coming very soon, and if Nokia does not react, Apple and Android phones will get all of the market.

    2. Tom Chiverton 1


      Actually, the N900 is still getting updates, v1.3 should be out 'soon'.

      What Nokia are doing is betting the farm on the MeeGo effort with Intel...

    3. Sam Liddicott

      maemo sadness

      If only maemo devices had been shipped with a build-in phone. I found it hard to believe then (and why I didn't buy one) and I think that was a key-mistake on Nokia strategy.

      1. hyartep

        i liked my n800 as a tablet

        n770 and n800 would not work as a phone. the strategy was good, but too slow to realize.

    4. Johnny Tremaine

      What could have been: Nokia-Palm

      It goes to show what a huge missed opportunity it was that Nokia didn't scoop up Palm and WebOS when they had the chance.

      It was theirs for the taking, if they wanted it, and they would have had a fantastic, ready to ship, mobile OS that is scalable up to use even on tablets, not to mention in-roads and relationships with carriers in the U.S.

      But they let it go off into the arms of H-P, for use in printers, I suppose....

  6. Raumkraut

    Some focus at last?

    Does this mean that Nokia is finally coming around to focus the bulk of their effort on a single mobile platform? I can only think that MeeGo is going to be the big winner here - at least inside Nokia.

    I imagine that they would have to maintain some Symbian development resources though, given MeeGo probably isn't going to fit well on the low-end phones which make up the bulk of the Nokia's profilts, and most of the mobile market.

  7. jodyfanning

    Does anyone read the Nokia statements?!

    Lots of mis-reporting. Everyone seems to think that Symbian is disappearing. That is wrong.

    What has been told by Nokia is that you shouldn't any longer target Symbian when writing apps, you should make all calls through Qt.

    So, it is like MS saying not to use Win32 APIs directly, but use .Net instead. Just because you write to .Net does't means Windows disappears.

  8. Avatar of They
    Thumb Down

    Trouble at Nokia?

    So Nokia are now pinning the future on Meego? Or did I miss an announcement for another OS?

    They get rid of symbian and only leave Meego which is as yet untried and judging by their support and work with Maemo, which going off my N900 means is not very good. (its a phone Nokia, keep that as a concept when you desing all the other stuff to go on it) I can't see Meego surviving in the wild and will need a good six months to a year to get to a point that people don't want to knife everyone working at Nokia for letting them buy such a piece of crap. (breathe in, breathe out.)

    They cannot seriously hope Meego which isn't yet live can go against mature and maturing OS's like iOS and Android. So are they peddling in water with symbian for a bit, knowing it is a dead end and hoping people will just buy the phone and ignore the unsupported OS that comes with it?

    Or is Winmo7 being picked up. (What a horrible thought)

    1. Nexox Enigma


      """its a phone Nokia, keep that as a concept when you desing all the other stuff to go on it"""

      I rather like that my N900 is mostly not a phone - I made my first phone call on mine this week, and I've had it since January. It works very nicely for what I need (mobile Linux that I can use properly, no jailbreaking required.)

      They very clearly designed it /not/ to be a phone at all. It has phone hardware because that's how you get wireless data, and they went ahead and threw in an app that lets you call people, but that was clearly not it's purpose.

      You'll notice that none of the other Nxxx series have any sort of phone capability (aside from VoIP, I suppose.)

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As said by others -SYMBIAN IS NOT BEING DROPPED

    The N8 and its descendants have at least 4 years life in them, running Symbian 4 with QT and its descendants. The OS is still going, it's just that it now uses QT and apps need to be developed to that API.

    1. David Beck

      How good is QT at handling real keyboards?

      Should I be stocking up on E Series devices now so I have something to use for the next 20 years or until fondle slabs fall out of fashion?

  10. David Beck

    Where did the Ovi developers go?

    Can we find out where the Ovi (PC) developers go when they leave? I want to know what products to avoid in the future.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Facts ?

    More facts than fluff here :-

    Isn't it 1200 people from Symbian?

    And where do you get that support is being pulled? Given that much of the change is, in fact, to make life better for 3rd party developers/development.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    When are we getting the evil Stephen Elop icon?

    Sacking 1800 employees when the company's profits beat expectations is evil...

  13. Anonymous Coward

    The end of the end

    Nokia developers, who are “have to go”, would not ever fix any defects of N8, because of zero redundancy package.

    The other part of them will be frustrated, by tripling their work because:

    - Nothing doing "Developers to go";

    - Nokia would consider, securing job is high privilege to work hard;

    At the end they will defect too, because there will not be bonuses and pay rise. To be honest there is no future, because at least for the half year they will do a little.

    I think this the real fact “the end of the end”.

    98% customers can distinguish phone by a brand and a shape of Phone User Interface, but not by OS.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Less than 2 years after Nokia took control of Symbian

    Having been forced to transfer to the Symbian Foundation by Nokia, then made redundant by the SF, this news is not surprising.

    With the SF going and only setup as a method for Nokia to remove talented staff, then this was Nokia’s plan from Day 1.

    I thought Microsoft were the bad guys.

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