A Symbian manager wasn't overly impressed when I suggested several years ago that the smartphone OS company was becoming Nokia's toy. As I recall from a press conference at the time, he called the idea irresponsible journalism. Now, a bit like Father Ted when he was voted Priest Of The Year, I feel somewhat vindicated - nay, self-righteous and fist pumping -- after the news broke that Nokia has acquired most of the company.
Symbian was interesting because it was the first company to attempt to win a place at the software heart of combining mobile phones with PDAs. It was also interesting because it quickly became successful, performing the rare trick of trouncing Microsoft. It was even more interesting because it was largely British, being headquartered in London and based on software designed by Psion. Most importantly of all, having Motorola, Nokia, Ericsson and others on board made it as near as dammit to being independent. With Nokia
now having majority stake, it's not independent any longer.
A final interesting thing about Symbian is less positive.
Many observers expected the company to be at the centre of devices that would act as mobile gateways to enterprise information and yet nearly all its designs are effectively consumer products. It's hard to name a product that is designed with business usage in mind. Screens are tiny; links to business apps are flaky or non-existent; means of input are awful.
With Nokia running the show, it will be interesting to see whether any rival feels comfortable with running Symbian as a business platform. There again though, who does it now?