What Now for Developers?

canalys.gifThere has been lots of media interest in the latest Canalys research that shows that Android has become the World’s leading smartphone platform (in Q4 2010). There has also been lots of speculation as to what Nokia CEO Stephen Elop meant when he said that "We must build, catalyse or join a competitive eco-system" and what will be in Nokia’s new strategy to be unveiled on February 11.

Speaking to my Symbian-specific clients I know all this has created lots of fear, uncertainty and doubt. What does all this mean? Where are the new opportunities for developers?

First of all, the Canalys figures show that Nokia did reasonably well last year and smartphone sales grew by 30%. The reason they didn’t maintain their no 1 position was due to the smartphone whole market increasing by 88%. This has all been due to Android’s scalable model of shipping via many phone OEMs. Apple, RIM and Nokia only ship their own phones and I believe they will find it difficult if not impossible to catch up.

There has been too much speculation on what will be unveiled by Nokia on the 11th February. What we do know is that Nokia has invested extremely heavily in Symbian, MeeGo and Qt and I personally can’t see them giving this up (yet).

So what now for developers? I think there are opportunities in Android to create middleware or services that help phone OEMs differentiate their phones. The more phones that are out there, the stronger need to differentiate.  

There are still opportunities to work on (and with) Nokia, even on Symbian. The shipping numbers are still large. Symbian will probably remain the underlying OS for Nokia’s smartphones for some time and they need clever technologies and services to differentiate their devices (Symbian and MeeGo).

I think the key thing is, like me, not to bet on one platform. Things change fast. Spread your bets.