Michael Mace wrote an *excellent* piece titled Is Symbian dead? And if so, who killed it?. A must read for anyone in mobile.
[Update Nov 26, 2010] Symbian Foundation web sites to shut down.
His writeup has great background info that brings lots of memories; EPOC and Psion (circa 2000), the Symbian conferences in the Valley, UIQ, CodeWarrior and so on. Good time$.
Michael also covers the Symbian governance and how it was/is as the *center of the problem*.
(I want to add that the very same problem with governance is *also* what have killed J2ME/JavaME; the same. This is a broken system that pushes away the developer community (because they get tired of the same old thing and no change and no real ability to help change), it is a broken system proven to kill technology and related business opportunities and the ecosystem around it.)
At a recent MobileMonday Austin we had Nokia as a guest where they presented their their impressive numbers, their very nice new N8 handset and emphasis on the Ovi store (as they should), and Symbian^3.
From that presentation, and later from their website (see Symbian^3 Developer Overview) , I immediately recognized the importance of their new strategy that focuses on Qt and the implicit strategy of “moving away” from Symbian OS as a developer platform. Note that Qt will become the primary application framework starting with Symbian^4 and Symbian^3 is a migration path to this.
So Nokia, the largest consumer of the Symbian OS, has decided to focus on an abstraction layer, the app framework itself (Qt) that will allow developers run their apps (once ported!) on whatever Nokia platform (infrastructure that is) underneath — Symbian OS, Meego, etc. This definitely is a good strategy as it brings consistency to developers. It also signals a larger intention where the Symbian operating system itself, as a developer platform, is moving into irrelevancy.