Symbian: Dominance under threat, and Malware on the rise

Mobile OS development is coming under increasing pressure as the huge and growing R&D costs force owners to review their long-term thinking. According to a new study from Strategy Analytics, R&D expenditure and accompanying ecosystem costs could result in consolidation for the smartphone OS market with Symbian, the present market leader, having to fight for survival.

"We estimate that smartphone OS vendors currently spend US$100-US$200 million on R&D on average," said Sravan Kundojjala of Strategy Analytics. "This, along with the arduous work involved in creating an ecosystem around the OS, could potentially force handset vendors to consolidate their efforts around one or two third-party licensable Operating Systems."

However, the market research firm believes that smartphone Operating Systems with a strong consumer focus and a robust R&D budget will sustain competitive advantages and "take huge market share in the future," said Stuart Robinson, director of the company's handset component technologies service. "In this respect, we place our bets on Android, iPhone OS and Symbian."

Hedging its bets, the firm added that the door was closed to new entrants, and predicted that Nokia's Linux based Maemo platform could potentially feature in future smartphones.

Not helping Symbian's reputation are the results from a survey conducted by SMobile claiming that 1 in 63 Symbian handsets was infected with some sort of malware. The mobile security firm sampled 1958 Symbian devices in India and Europe, and discovered that 1.6 per cent of them were infected with FlexiSpy, Flocker, Beselo or Boxer malware.

However, observers have questioned this level of infection as being remarkably high given that the overwhelming majority of Symbian OS users do not download software, let alone downloading enough for a Trojan to slip through.

For more on this story:
EE Times
and The Register

Related stories:
Nokia borrows $640 million to fund Symbian R&D
Symbian^2 beta poised for release in next few weeks
Symbian OS dumped by Motorola
LiMo, Symbian say Android is over-hyped

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