1 .1 What is symbian os
Section 1.01 Symbian is an operating system (OS) targeted at mobile phones that offers a high-level of integration with communication and personal information management (PIM) functionality. Symbian OS combines middleware with wireless communications through an integrated mailbox and the integration of Java and PIM functionality (agenda and contacts). The Symbian OS is open for third-party development by independent software vendors, enterprise IT departments, network operators and Symbian OS licensees.
Symbian itself grew out of Psion Software (hence many of the similarities -often under the hood- between Psion's EPOC operating system and modern Symbian software platforms). Recognizing that the future was a connected one, with messaging, email and web central, mobile phone giants Ericsson and Nokia (plus a few others) were involved in setting up the new consortium with the Psion staff.
Today (2005), Psion itself has more or less ceased to exist, leaving Nokia and Sony Ericsson as the two dominant partners, at least in terms of investment and new products.
1.2 What is Symbian's significance in the wireless market?
Symbian plays a central role within the wireless market: Symbian's licensees represented over 80% of mobile phone sales in 2002. The importance of this role was underlined by Jorma Ollila, Chairman & CEO of Nokia, when he stated in May 2001, that ".by 2004, 50% of Nokia's 3G phones will be Symbian OS based"
The wireless market is changing, driven by customers who want access to services and applications that will add value to their leisure and work, and by operators who need a return on their huge investments in 3G licenses and infrastructure. They will have invested something like €300bn in Europe.
So we see fantastic opportunities. Opportunities for new services and applications, such as multi-user games, location based services for route planning or localized advertising, and soon wireless commerce. However this is a new world. Both handset manufactures and operators are moving from closed systems to open systems, giving users the ability to download applications and services. This change isn't going to be painless; however Symbian is in a unique position to minimize the cost of change. Symbian OS is an advanced, open platform and Symbian is committed to supporting, implementing, and guiding the major wireless standards. But perhaps most importantly of all, Symbian understands the wireless market and the way it is changing. This includes the necessary security infrastructure, application and service provisioning and their business models, and rapid service development.
Why Symbian OS?
2.1 Addressing specific needs
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 (such as Series 60 phones) to information-centric devices with voice capability (such as UIQ and Series 80 phones). These advanced mobile phones integrate fully-featured personal digital assistant (PDA) capabilities with those of a traditional mobile phone in a single unit. In this article we’ll be looking at the critical factors for 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:
mobile phones are both small and mobile
mobile phones are ubiquitous – they target a mass-market of consumer, enterprise and professional users
mobile phones are occasionally connected – they can be used when connected to the wireless phone network, locally to other devices, or on their own
manufacturers need to differentiate their products in order to innovate and compete in a fast-evolving market
the platform has to be open to enable independent technology and software vendors to develop third-party applications, technologies and services
The way to grow the mobile phone market is to create good products – and the only way to create good products is to address each of these characteristics and ensure that technology doesn’t limit functionality. Meeting the impressive growth forecast by analysts in a reasonable time frame is only possible with the right operating system
2.2 Small and mobile, but always available
Mobile phones are both small and, by definition, mobile. This creates high user expectations. For instance, if you have your agenda on a phone that you also use to make calls and exchange data, you expect to be able to carry it with you at all times and to be instantly available whenever you want to use it.
Fulfilling these expectations makes considerable demands on power management. The device needs to be responsive in all situations, and cannot afford to go through a long boot sequence when it is turned on. In fact, the device should never be powered down completely since it needs to activate timed alarms or handle incoming calls. At the same time, a mobile phone must provide many hours of operation on a single charge or set of batteries. Meeting these contradictory requirements can only be done if the whole operating system is designed for efficiency.
2.3 Addressing the mass-market
Reliability is a major issue for mass-market phones. Data loss in a personal mobile phone causes a loss of trust between the user and the phone. A mobile phone therefore must be at least as resilient as paper diaries and agendas. Recalling phones to install service packs is a commercial and practical last resort – a mobile phone should never lock up or come with a major software defect. In fact, to use a PC term, it should never ever need a “reboot”! This is a far cry from desktop computers where bugs, crashes and reboots are expected.
However, reliability alone is not enough to make good products. Sound consumer design is also necessary, where:
• product applications take advantage of the mobile phone’s unique characteristics as well as its environment
• products should be designed to meet current usability and future developments in wireless technology
• Consistency of style is paramount – if a feature is too complex to use, then it cannot justify either the time it took to develop or the space it takes in the device.
An operating system targeted at mobile phones must support these design principles by offering a high-level of integration with communication and personal information management (PIM) functionality. Symbian OS combines high functionality middleware with superior wireless communications through an integrated mailbox and the integration of Java and PIM functionality (agenda and contacts).
2.4 Handling occasional connectivity
Accessing remote data, sending email or synchronizing calendars requires some type of connection. Mobility constraints generally make a wireless connection preferable – whether wide area (using wireless telephony) or personal area (such as infrared or Bluetooth links).
2.5 Product diversity
There is an apparent contradiction between software developers who want to develop for just one popular platform and manufacturers who each want to have a range of distinctive and innovative products. The circle can be squared by separating the user interface from the core operating system.
Advanced mobile phones or “smart phones” come in all sorts of shapes – from traditional designs resembling today’s mobile phones with main input via the phone keypad, to a tablet form factor operated with a stylus, to phones with larger screens and small keyboards.
This strategy ensures that Symbian OS phone manufacturers can create highly differentiated products while sharing a technology platform and keeping the learning curve to a minimum.
2.6 Open platform
An operating system for the mass-market must be open for third-party development – by independent software vendors, enterprise IT departments, network operators and Symbian OS licensees. In turn, this implies a manageable learning curve, standard languages such as C++ and Java, along with SDKs, tools, documentation, books, technical support and training. Symbian OS has a rich set of APIs for independent software developers, partners and licensees to write their applications.
Traditional standards such as Unicode for internationalization, a POSIX API, and Java are a must, but for an operating system to take its place in the connected world, open standards such as TCP/IP, POP3, IMAP4, SMTP, SMS, MMS, Bluetooth, OBEX, WAP, i-mode, Java and SyncML should also be supported.
Symbian has trusted leading partners in the mobile phone market and actively participates in standards organizations (such as the Open Mobile Alliance and the Java Community Process). Through these, Symbian has advance
Furthermore, a user interface framework, data service enablers and application engines provide a solid base for application developers to target.