Samsung Drops Symbian Support, While Android Continues to Rise

Samsung is the latest device manufacturer to announce it will discontinue support for Symbian. It's also a major supporter of Google's Android, which is already eating away Symbian's market share.

Samsung, following similar moves by Sony Ericsson and Nokia, will discontinue support for the Symbian mobile operating system Dec. 31, the company announced on the Samsung Mobile Innovator site, a discussion board for developers. In a Sept. 30 post, the phone maker recommended that developers post all final queries by Dec. 10 to ensure that they're addressed before the forum goes dark.

"Registration and certification of Symbian applications for the Samsung Apps store will cease from 8:00 a.m. on the 31st of December 2010," the post states, adding that Samsung thanks the developers for their support, and that going forward they should refer to as an alternate forum site.

The move will reduce the mobile operating systems supported by Samsung to Google's Android, Microsoft's upcoming Windows Phone 7 and Samsung's own Bada platform. The phone maker is not alone in its decision to drop Symbian. In September, competitor Sony Ericsson announced that it would also stop offering Symbian-running handsets and instead focus its efforts on the open-source Android OS. And in June, Nokia - a creator of the Symbian platform and its predominant purveyor - announced that its now-debuting N8 smartphone, the first to run Symbian 3, will be the last of its high-end N series devices to run Symbian.

Worldwide, Symbian is currently the predominant mobile operating system. It commands 40.1 percent of the market, more than twice the 17.9 percent held by the second-position BlackBerry OS or the 16.3 percent held by the third-place Android, according to a Sept. 7 report from IDC. Going forward, however, IDC expects the well-established Symbian to cede market share to newer OS entrants, particularly Android.

By 2014, IDC is forecasting Symbian's market share to fall to 32.9 percent - a negative rate of 18 percent - while Android is expected to grow at a rate of 51.2 percent to achieve 24.6 percent market share.

"Android is the wild card, deserving close observation," IDC analyst Ramon Llamas said in the report. "Users have quickly warmed to Android, comparing it to [Apple's] iOS, due to its ease of use and a growing mobile application storefront. Now that HTC and Motorola have leapt out in front with their own respective devices, other vendors such as Dell, Kyocera, LG Electronics and Samsung will soon help grow the Android market."

CSPs (communication service providers) will also drive support for Android, helping to grow it to the No. 2 position, up close behind Symbian, Gartner analyst Roberta Cozza said in a Sept. 10 report.

"Symbian will remain at the top of Gartner's worldwide OS ranking due to Nokia's volume and the push into more mass market price points," states the Gartner report. "However, by the end of [2014], the No. 1 spot will be contested with Android, which will be at a very similar share level."

Cozza additionally predicted a shedding of operating systems by both CSPs and device manufacturers, as they "revisit their platform strategies and balance the need to pursue platforms with the highest current demand against the need to maintain differentiation with unique devices."

The drive to bring budget Android devices to market, currently being led by Samsung, as well as Sony Ericsson, LG and Motorola, states the Gartner report, "should help Android become the top OS in North America by the end of 2010."