Posted by Mike Evans in Mobile Software on May 31, 2010

The iPhone’s stroke of genius was its apps. Being able to install new apps developed by third parties gave the iPhone a whole new dimension that other phones simply couldn’t offer. Before the iPhone, your phone came with a pre-installed set of apps (usually games, a calendar and an alarm clock), and that was that. To get new features you needed a new phone.

The iPhone changed all that by letting you install new apps that fundamentally changed the features of the phone in thousands of different ways.

Except, it wasn’t a new idea, even years before the iPhone was released. Symbian had offered the ability to add apps to its phones for years.

So why did the iPhone become the phone with apps and Symbian become the forgotten mobile OS?…

Symbian^3 logo
Simple: Symbian’s obsession with security. In what should be a huge wake up call to Steve Jobs and the increasingly totalitarian regime that he’s creating around the walled garden that is everything i (iPhone, iPad, iTunes, iPod), Symbian insisted on approving each and every app that was written for the Symbian platform.

The only problem was that its approval process was even slower than Apple’s. Whereas iPhone apps can take from a week to 2 months to be approved, a Symbian app still takes half a year before it’s approved!

Half a year is simply insane. The smartphone market is so fast moving that an app is usually out of date 6 months after it’s first released.

According to Lee Williams, Symbian’s Executive Director, this is still the case now. So not only did Symbian squander the app advantage they had when the iPhone was first launched, they continued to do nothing about the situation for a full three years while Apple cut a swathe throught the market unabated.

Sometimes you want to just bang your head against the wall at the sheer incompetence of large organizations!

[Source: Reuters]