updated 08:50 am EST, Fri December 5, 2008
ATT on Symbian Use
AT&T may focus almost exclusively on Symbian for its smartphones in the future, company director of next generation services Roger Smith said in a presentation later on Thursday. The executive says AT&T has grown frustrated with the splintering of most of the smartphone market and that the carrier is likely to settle on a single, very flexible operating system like the soon to be open-sourced Symbian platform rather than attempt to code for multiple platforms.
Until now, AT&T has attempted to bridge the gap by using Java as an intermediary layer common to most platforms, Smith says. However, the inherently abstracted nature of Java is said to have led to some poor code management on AT&T's part as well as to limitations for developers, who can't take advantage of deeper OS-specific features and so can't write certain types of apps.
Smith is already allaying fears that the iPhone would be threatened under this strategy and tries to justify the distinction by characterizing the Apple handset as an outside device; the iPhone is a third-party smartphone that just happens to use AT&T's voice and data networks, he claims. Any move to Symbian or another platform would primarily apply to fully carrier-branded devices, implying that devices like BlackBerries would also be exempt from the policy.
While no definitive plans have been announced, a move to Symbian would chiefly benefit Nokia and Samsung, the two main cellphone manufacturers to use the operating system. It would also potentially damage the hopes of Google for its Linux-based Android operating system, which has been embraced to varying degrees by T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon but has yet to receive any particular endorsement by AT&T.