Oct 092008

I personally don’t think too well of N.C. after having met him in the Symbian Smartphone Show – back then, he introduced StyleTap in his talks, but had absolutely no idea about it at the media briefing two minutes afterwards. Nevertheless, silicon.com managed to get a hold of Nagel Clifford and interviewed him.

Nagel Clifford spoke on topics like how the Symbian Foundation plans to gain new licensees, why the royalty business model is not ideal and a variety of other Symbian-Foundation related topics.

Clifford had a few slightly aggressive statements for his main competitors, too – he considered them “niche markets”. He then looks at technical aspects of the platforms and at what’s in stock for upcoming devices.

Get the full scoop here

Apr 132008

Sometimes strange things happen to strange people – yours truly is very strange(and so is his girlfriend) – and we thus got a very strange call a few nights ago. The caller has authenticated himself as being from TrollTech, and has asked us to check our email accounts for an email interview about the future of Nokia’s operating systems.

Here goes:

What will happen to TrollTech
Trolltech will continue to operate as it has been operating. It will be an independent division inside Nokia. Nokia has stated publicly (and to us) that they fully intend to keep Trolltech’s business running. Certainly parts of the Qt/Qtopia ecosystem would not survive if Nokia were to interfere. Nokia seems to be aware of this and keen to keep the ecosystem going.

I see the purchase as a way to prevent someone else from “stealing”
their supplier, like they just did to Motorola :)

What will happen to apps using the S60 API once Nokia switches to QT as the main phone API…will the S60 API be phased out?
No. It has to remain for compatibility with existing apps. No doubt Qt will be using chunks of it though. Future devices may not use Symbian/S60 and it’s conceivable that Qt is the only API available on those devices (similar to how GTK is the only API available on the Nokia internet tablets today).

Nokia doesn’t believe in throwing away good tech to make way for new stuff. They still sell S30 devices and S40 is still an actively maintained platform. Qt is not a replacement for S60, it’s a way for Nokia (and others) to write one app that runs on S40/S60/ Linux/Desktop/Next Gen. It’s similar to what Java promised though I’d argue that Java failed (witness the extreme fragmentation of the J2ME market).

So you say that it is as it is for now, but not forever…aka that the S60 API could be phased out someday?
I’d be really surprised if some next gen system that hasn’t even been made yet will totally replace something like Symbian/S60 in less than 5 years. Sure hardware advances quickly but older, slower hardware is always cheaper and older software is always faster. S60 hasn’t managed to replace S40 yet and it’s been out for years now.

For a new, high-end device, you can’t really have the old system. Imagine the iPhone experience from S60… just not going to happen.

So certainly high end stuff will move onto whatever next-gen system they’re doing but the mid/low range will take years.

If there’s a large library of software built on Symbian/S60 that Nokia wants to see running on their next-gen system they’ll just build some compatibility VM or whatever, like Cobalt/ALP have for the Garnet API.

Keep in mind too that Qt on S60 hasn’t even been started yet. It’ll be a year or two before you’ll even see Nokia handsets with Qt on them.

After that, he apparently deleted the email account that he used – I can no longer reach him… . anyways, I thank him for the news – it’s always great to hear from insiders!

P.S. This blog is hosted in Austria – a country with intact press freedom for tech journalists. All attempts to get he sources identity are futile!

Mar 012008

The folks over at PocketGamer’s managed to score an interesting interview with Jaakko Kaidesoja, the boss of Nokia’s game department.

While most of the interview is related to Sony releasing some sort of phone addon for the PSP, he also made a few interesting statements about the future of N-Gage. First of all, he stated that he expected the N-Gage sisx file to be cracked(and that he hoped that it would happen…e.g. on my N71):

“We knew people would crack it,” says Kaidesoja. “Cracking a sisx file isn’t that hard, so of course we expected it. And it’s good to get feedback on the First Access application even from people with other handsets.”

As for handset support:

The N82 and both N95 handsets will be next in line for the commercial launch, but bad news N73 owners: you’re going to have to wait a while.

“We promised the N73 earlier, but we found some memory issues, as it has a lower memory spec than other devices,” says Kaidesoja. “That gives some headaches, but we’ll deal with that, and will release for the device during the second quarter.”

Last but not least, he also talked a bit about launch titles – visit the folks in order to find out more!

Jan 132008

Resco is commonly known for its excellent Palm OS and PocketPC applications. Less people know that Jan Slodicka has ported a few of his award winning Palm OS applications to S60. We recently managed to get a hold of Michal Sartoris(aka the brain behind Resco News and Resco Photo Viewer) at a party…here’s what he has to say:
0a Interview: Rescos Michal Sartoris

Please tell us a bit more about who you are and how you came to Resco
1a Interview: Rescos Michal Sartoris
I studied software engineering in Bratislava. After I finished my third year, I put my CV online….and Resco asked me in for an interview. I gladly came and got employed immediately.

Why did Resco start to work on Symbian applications?
Well…Jan won a Nokia 3650 at an American developer event. Since I was free at the time, I was assigned to that device.

Newcomers often say that the S60 platform is very hard to grasp. Did you have problems getting started?
As Symbian is C++-based; getting started was not too hard because I had been working on Pocket PC applications before. So far for theory…Nokia used completely different API’s; so figuring out how to do things was a bit difficult at first.

Now that you have worked with S60 for some time, what do you think about it(compared to other platforms)
I personally think that S60 has the richest API. Developing applications is easiest for the Palm OS…but I dislike it because of its simple user interface. PocketPC’s have a nicer interface…and Symbian’s is truly impressive.

Symbian is ‘subdivided’ into UIQ and S60. Which of the two platforms do you consider simpler to develop for?
The same IDE can be used for both platforms…I generally see very little differences. Some things are done better in UIQ, some are better in S60…but it balances out in the end.

As for S60 touch; what do you think about it?
When I originally heard about S60 touch(TamsS60 had the announcement video); I was worried because of the costs associated with application signing. Now that this has been fixed, I feel more comfortable about it.

Nokia’s demos of the Touch API looked well…and my UIQ ports have taught me that adding touchscreen support to an existing application is not too hard.

Carbide has recently gotten a nice bit of attention from developers. What do you think about it?
I tried version 1.1 once..and didn’t really like it. I have worked with CodeWarrior before; and prefer it as it is faster than Eclipse-based IDE’s.

If the Carbide team adds a few features like precompiled headers and generally increases speed, the program could eventually become useful…but CodeWarrior has served me so well that I felt no need to update so far.

Which phone do you use yourself?
I use a Nokia E61 provided by Handango in return to a port of PhotoViewer to S60v3. When I first saw the device, I disliked its design.
2a Interview: Rescos Michal Sartoris

However, now that I use it for quite some time, I start to really like it. The keyboard makes entering long text really easy – but the lack of a camera and the stupid joystick should definitely be addressed in the next revision of the box.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Yes – I would love to see Nokia do more in order to grow its market share in the USA. My experience with other platforms has shown that most money is made in the states…if Nokia grew there, we would be able to sell much more software….

Nov 082007

At the Symbian Smartphone Show, Software Imaging demoed an application that could print PDF files from UIQ smartphones(demo video coming soon). Colin Cox, a sales support engineer from Software Imaging, took the time to sit down with me for a chat…

Dear Colin, could you please tell us a bit more about who you are and what your company does?
I am a sales support engineer for Software Imaging:
 Software Imaging Interview: Colin Cox on printing with UIQ smartphones

Our company has been in the print industry for 20 years, creating driver kits for devices from various major print manufacturers…that’s where our printing expertise comes from.

We have noticed that there is a huge opportunity in the smartphone industry…there simply is no good printing solution out there. Thus, we created an SDK for application developers and phone manufacturers.

If I am a developer, how can I make my S60 application print?
At the moment, you can’t – we currently support only UIQ. However, S60 is already on our roadmap…the program is easy to port…

If I have an UIQ application, how can I get it printing?
Well…you need to get our SDK. Please contact us for further information on licensing!

If a phone manufacturer includes your print server into his phone, will developers have to pay once again to use it?
This is something that we decide on a case-by-case basis with the phone manufacturer.

Are phone manufacturers currently interested in the technology?
Absolutely – we’ve seen a lot of interest. The Symbian Smartphone Show has been particularly useful, making it easy for us to meet with a number of phone manufacturers and Symbian. We’ve had loads of users walk by expecting an application that can be purchased an taken home right from the stand…

Which printers do you support currently?
We currently support PCLXL/PCL6-based printers, as that allows us to cover most of the printing market. We plan to create PostScript, PCL5 drivers as necessary.

Consumer ink-jets will not be supported?
InkJet support is definitely on the roadmap. Ultimately, it comes down to what our customers want and their highest
priority so far has been laser printing.

In the past, developers have often complained about how printer manufacturers are uncooperative when asked for documentation. What have you experienced?
So far, manufacturers were cooperative. Keep in mind-we have worked with such manufacturers for 20 years creating drivers, and thus have an awful amount of knowledge in-house…

How does the printer connect to the phone?
As of now, the product can print to network printers reachable via WiFi. Options like Bluetooth and infrared are being considered…we basically started with the most-demanded, and make our way from there. Please keep in mind that our product is extremely modular…

Oct 252007

The Austrian branch of Hutchison(called 3, logo below) has provided me with data services for my Nokia N71 and my laptop ever since TamsS60 was founded…and has served me reliably in Sweden and England at no extra cost(!!!) due to their 3 like home service.
3logo Hutchison/3 interview

Anyways, good luck and ill fortune had me bump into Christian Haspl, commercial manager for the above mentioned company. He gladly answered a few questions on platforms, application sales, virii and 3G network operation:
haspl Hutchison/3 interview

Dear Mr. Haspl, could you please tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m the commercial development manager for Hutchison Austria – we run the a 3g-only network called 3 since 2003. By the end of the year 2008, we plan to provide 3G coverage to 90% of the Austrian population!

How much coverage do you have in Austria as of now? How do you implement 2.5G support, and why can’t 2.5G devices be used on 3?
We have built up our own 3G network in Austria covering 50% of the population. Additionally, we have a national roaming agreement with one of the leading providers in Austria. Our partner provides the 2.5G coverage, and reaches approx 98% of the population.

Which platforms do you offer on your devices?
If I understand you correctly, platforms means operating systems. We mainly do Series 60 3ed – and additionally offer Windows Mobile via Palm’s Treo 750 and a variety of phones with J2ME support for mobile gaming!

Which platforms do you sell the most?
If open platforms are concerned, Series 60 3ed definitely takes the lead. However, if all phones are concerned, proprietary platforms offering J2ME definitely take the lead.

Proprietary platforms have recently lost market share to open systems. Do you think that this trend will continue, or will proprietary RTOS’s still be around in a few years?
We have recently seen Series 60 on cheaper devices like Nokia’s 6120. However, I think that RTOS’s will be along for a very long time – at least in low-end handsets. They are much cheaper to implement and maintain. I predict that there will still be a nice percentage of devices running custom IOS’s in the low and mid-end segment in 5 years.

Coming back to open operating systems, which operating systems will dominate the market in a few years of time?
When businesses are concerned, Microsoft’s Windows Mobile 6 is in an excellent position due to its excellent Outlook compatibility. Series 60 also is very strong.

Linux has not materialized in Europe so far, Qualcomm’s Brew probably won’t dominate the European market either.

However, none of these operating systems will disappear completely. There are hundreds of device manufacturers…and each one bets on a different horse.

Garmin had huge issues with users installing ‘crap’ onto their devices. How does the situation look at your end?
The device manufacturer mostly handles support for us. However, we try to guide the customer in terms of what to install and what to avoid. In case of an app-induced borkup, we recommend customers to hard-reset their phones and reinstall needed applications.

How does 3 handle virii targetting mobile devices? Do you consider them a big issue?
For us, virii have not been as big an issue as they have been for others. However, we block the MMS forwarding of .sis files in order to prevent virii from spreading on our network.

Additionally, we offer links to various mobile AV solutions. This ensures that affected users can at least download a trial version to desinfect the phone…and decide about keeping the program later.

Do you feel that they are a significant threat?
No. I can recall 3 cases in the last 2 years…we recommend the same steps as outlined above for faulty applications…

Last but not least, does 3 act as an ESD itself? Do you sell applications developed by third parties?
We currently focus on mobile games in Austria. However, we work on expanding the portfolio to applications in more mature markets like Australia. This will eventually come to Austria too…I am thinking of approximately 2 years here…