Symbian OS is designed for the mobile phone environment. It addresses constraints of mobile phones by providing a framework to handle low memory situations, a power management model, and a rich software layer implementing industry standards for communications, telephony and data rendering. Even with these abundant features, Symbian OS puts no constraints on the integration of other peripheral hardware. This flexibility allows handset manufacturers to pursue innovative and original designs. Symbian OS is proven on several platforms. It started life as the operating system for the Psion series of consumer PDA products (including Series 5mx, Revo and netBook), and various adaptations by Diamond, Oregon Scientific and Ericsson. The first dedicated mobile phone incorporating Symbian OS was the Ericsson R380 Smartphone, which incorporated a flip-open keypad to reveal a touch screen display and several connected applications.
Most recently available is the Nokia 9210Communicator, a mobile phone that has a QWERTY keyboard and color display, and is fully open to third-party applications written in Java or C++. The five key points - small mobile devices, mass-market, intermittent wireless connectivity, diversity of products and an open platform for independent software developers - are the premises on which Symbian OS was designed and developed. This makes it distinct from any desktop, workstation or server operating system. This also makes Symbian OS different from embedded operating systems, or any of its competitors, which weren't designed with all these key points in mind. Symbian is committed to open standards. Symbian OS has a POSIX-compliant interface and a Sun-approved JVM, and the company is actively working with emerging standards, such as J2ME, Bluetooth, MMS, SyncML, IPv6 and WCDMA.
As well as its own developer support organization, books, papers and courses, Symbian delivers a global network of third-party competency and training centers - the Symbian Competence Centers and Symbian Training Centers. These are specifically directed at enabling other organizations and developers to take part in this new economy. Symbian has announced and implemented a strategy that will see Symbian OS running on many advanced open mobile phones. Small devices come in many shapes and sizes, each addressing distinct target markets that have different requirements. The market segment we are interested in is that of the mobile phone. The primary requirement of this market segment is that all products are great phones. This segment spans voice-centric phones with information capability to information-centric devices with voice capability. These advanced mobile phones integrate fully-featured personal digital assistant (PDA) capabilities with those of a traditional mobile phone in a single unit.
There are several critical factors for the need of operating systems in this market. It is important to look at the mobile phone market in isolation. It has specific needs that make it unlike markets for PCs or fixed domestic appliances. Scaling down a PC operating system, or bolting communication capabilities onto a small and basic operating system, results in too many fundamental compromises. Symbian believes that the mobile phone market has five key characteristics that make it unique, and result in the need for a specifically designed operating system:
1) mobile phones are both small and mobile.
2) mobile phones are ubiquitous - they target a mass-market of consumer, enterprise and professional users.
3) mobile phones are occasionally connected - they can be used when connected to the wireless phone network, locally to other devices, or on their own.
4) manufacturers need to differentiate their products in order to innovate and compete in a fast-evolving market.