Nokia will finally stop shipments of its once-mighty Symbian smartphones this summer and throw its future wholly behind Microsoft’s Windows platform.
The Finnish group will bring to an end deliveries of its last homegrown smartphone platform, which had looked unassailable as the world’s leading operating system before the launch of Apple’s iPhone.
Symbian still accounts for a small, single-digit share in many major markets, and was surpassed by Nokia’s Lumia range of Windows-based smartphones only in the past year. The latest Lumia device, the 925, will go on sale around Europe this week.The subsequent failure by Nokia to keep pace with innovations from Apple, and then match the rise ofGoogle’s Android, caused a sharp decline in sales of devices using Symbian even as the overall smartphone market grew rapidly. This forced Nokia into a drastic leap from the self-proclaimed “burning platform” on toMicrosoft’s rival software.
The final shipment means the Finnish group’s fortunes in the smartphone market now rest entirely on Microsoft’s fledgling Windows Mobile software.
Kantar Worldpanel estimates that Symbian held a European market share of about 1.8 per cent in the three months to April, down from 8 per cent in the year before. It still accounts for about 2 per cent of the vast Chinese market.
However, Nokia sold just 500,000 Symbian units in the first quarter of 2013, much less than the 5.6m Windows-based Lumia phones, which meant that the operating system accounted for less than 5 per cent of overall smartphone sales.
Nokia developed the last new Symbian device in 2012 – the 808 Pureview – although it has continued to ship handsets using the operating system given its enduring popularity in some countries.
Nokia said: “It took 22 months to get a Symbian phone out of the door. With Windows Phone, it is less than a year. We spend less time having to tinker with deep-lying code and more time on crafting elements of the experience that make a big difference, such as around photography, maps, music and apps in general.”
Nokia is not expected to announce it has stopped shipments, in part because there will still be stocks of the devices that need be sold in parts of the world. It will still make cheaper phones that use its own proprietary operating system.