Symbian's Big Day
By Eric Lin, Mon Feb 23 23:00:00 GMT 2004

Monday was the first full day of 3GSM in Cannes, France. As usual it was packed with news of every kind, but more of it was about Symbian than any other company. While Microsoft and Palm were curiously quiet, Symbian opened the flood gates with news about every flavor of the OS- overshadowing their competitors as well as most of the other companies there.

Symbian Limited announced they've revised the core OS to version 8.0. Improvements to the inner workings of an OS are never particularly sexy for consumers, but a few of the new features will make a noticeable difference in future Symbian handsets. Namely Symbian has added support for SDIO, finally allowing manufacturers to spec the more popular SD card slots instead of MMC. They have also added better support for hardware multimedia accelerators, as well as support for the OMA standard Device Management Framework. Competing smartphones from Microsoft and Palm have already offered many of these features, support for them was crucial for Symbian to catch up in terms of technology.

Symbian also announced version 3 of the UIQ interface in conjunction with the 8.0 release of the core OS. Instead of requiring pen based input for operation, UIQ 3 finally has support for a hardware-based interface, allowing one handed operation.

In additon to announcing two new Microsoft Smartphones, Motorola previewed the A1000 the first UIQ phone for 3G networks, as well as making news with Nokia that together they have developed the first Series 60 3G phone. Nokia also made news with Symbian's full scale OS by announcing a new Series 80 Communicator- the 9500. Like other Communicators, it is a brick-shaped clamshell with a Series 40 interface outside and a large screen and keyboard using Series 80 inside. This model adds GPRS, EDGE, and Wi-Fi for fast data, as well as Bluetooth and a VGA camera over the 9200 series. One of the new Microsoft Smartphones announced by Motorola also offers many of these features.

The Symbian family grew in Asia as Chinese manufacturer Lenovo announced they would license Series 60 from Nokia, while LG of Korea and Arima of Taiwan both announced they would be licensing Symbian.