Symbian Foundation & S60 – Mobile App/Social Store.
Symbian Foundation & S60 NEED to innovate on the App store stage.
There is something manufacturers are doing recently that is waking up for the programming & user communities alike. At first it looked like a fad that the iPhone ushered in, until a fairly unknown non-professional programmer made over $1 million in sales for her application that was submitted in the ‘App Store’.
Yes, that’s right this App Store for smartphones is not a fad! However, the way they’re designed and implemented is still sort of a joke to those Smartphone consumers looking for more than just games or the 1/5 utilities offered. It’s more of an insult than a joke to long time Symbian users on many fronts; the most insulting is that the App Store or S60’s Download! Application (it’s been around for years now), does not offer very well known or unknown & powerful applications, utilities, nor support the entrepreneur/student programmer.
Offering an App Store is not done first by Apple & the iPhone, as Nokia’s Download! Debuted some time prior. RIM has recently made their version of it for the BlackBerry, but went one step further by allowing providers have their own app store for their offerings (apps, themes, ringtones, wallpapers, video clips, etc). My E71 has browser bookmarks, preloaded by Nokia, for themes, wallpapers, ringtones – yet when I load them the site is a dead end, informing me no content is available and to try again later. When on Earth is later, I get this same message for 2mths now! If I didn’t have such strong communities like Symbian-Freak, All about Symbian, and HowardForums, I wouldn’t be able to find applications, let alone the names of them to utilize (for a Google/yahoo search) the full capabilities on my S60 powerhouse.
A Smartphone is only as good as the apps available/compatible for it, and that its user can find to use (purchase/freeware download)! Other than that it’s just a glorified feature phone.
With this in mind there are some things that the S60 community, Nokia and the upcoming Symbian Foundation need, nah, MUST do for S60’s dominance, elegance, and power to truly shine in the face of a struggling market and with new competition (Apple OS, Android OS, LiMo Foundation).
I’m taking it upon myself and the Nokia Ambassadors to work together to compile an efficient repository list of S60 applications. We should also post this list on forums – which most of the most popular applications have already been done but in a more unified, updated, and efficient format. This would be easier, not just ourselves, but also for those newer users coming to S60 to find or be introduced to. This list should also define the versions (in a simplistic way, not overkill) that are compatible with the range of phones or that suit the phones due to resolution (not so relevant yet), screen orientation, and input orientation (if needed).
The first screen, when launched to show the 5 newest offered, and the 5 most downloaded for the week. Yes the week, not the month. A Second screen/page, showing
6. Social & Web
7. Games & NGage
Themes & Wallpapers:
For example. Office can contain applications such as email, document conversion, or VoIP applications.
Applications> Office> Email:
Nokia Email Beta,
Nokia MfE (Mail for Exchange),
LonelyCat Games ProfiMail,
Good Technologies Good Messaging,
Now we all know that email based applications are best suitable or used on a QWERTY device like the E71. Sure T9 S60 users will standup here and state predictive text is very fast but it also available on the E71. That said how many are aware of LonelyCat Games’ ProfiMail? For so long its offered HTML email, and been the staple of mobile email for any Smartphone & on S60 for years. Why? Because this application was designed for the Joystick, D-pad S60 user in mind before any S60 QWERTY device existed. Simple things like highlighting an email and previewing it at the bottom of the screen, pressing Right on the Dad to advance the preview. Same manner to move through its settings menu or better yet its robust and sleek bundled file manager Xplore is a dream using the D-pad I rarely if at all use the shortcuts. Yes it’s that efficient, to view, preview, and move files with 1 handed operation. So in the “Symbian & You Store” there should be a little blurb stating something to this effect about this application, not just what specs (like HTML, integrate with themes, etc) it can do. Much like a condensed mini review. The real review can be saved for users on the forums & sites I mentioned above. Beta apps always will have a home on such sites like Symbian-Freak, because well only the die-hards that must have the best will try it and report to those of us awaiting such goods. Programming companies need to offer incentives to users like this to get the best & most in-depth feedback as possible, making the applications more robust for the end user.
Now if the future mobile S60 store – I couldn’t come up with a better name, yet – shouldn’t just offer applications. Nokia needs to move to make their Ovi service capable with all current S60 devices & users, and open up to Symbian Foundation for future Symbian based devices. I’m talking about a well designed – even better than what I’ve laid out – store that not only offers Applications, Themes, Games, and wallpapers, but also that abilities that Nokia S60 users are already enjoying .. Share on Ovi. Ovi has and can fully become a Social, Backup/Restore, integrated space for the mobile Symbian user base.
Imagine not only purchasing, or downloading free Symbian applications, but also having access to backup your phones content (Network or WLAN), restoring into a new phone, purchasing music 1 track, album, or soundtrack at a time, but also the chance to register your phone for Nokia’s Comes with Music 1yr service. Of course Comes with Music should only be available to other phone models & users within the first 30days of purchase & using the phone on a network, as your phones warranty is done then. Sharing your photos and uploading comments is great on Ovi, but its quickly becoming something like a mobile Facebook. Soon users will be able to upload a site on Ovi, users could make a call to their friends, family and fellow community entourage and be forwarded to a visual site voicemail. They would also during leaving that video voicemail, interact with that persons mobile site, even upload content/details – just in case other members need that info, or the person is tied up in a meeting/date yet still has access to the web on their Symbian phone. The possibilities are boundless!
However, these imaginations, and thoughts of mine are very capable on the S60 and future Symbian Foundation platform, yet can only be achieved by those in power willing to offer us more than the competition and improve our experience. There are many more markets where Symbian or S60 is barely a whisper to the common user, where they think the best a Smartphone can be is the iPhone, never knowing so much more can be done and better suited to their lifestyle, opening up windows, doors, leaping boundaries.
To truly make this mobile store the greatest the mobile industry, and financial investors can see is the sheer breadth and wealth of applications available, but not just from large companies like DataViz, QuickOffice, Good Technologies, or Nokia itself. This mobile store should also embrace freeware, shareware, and other application bases available like Python environment apps, and Ruby apps. Last but not the least. The Student or entrepreneur programmer should also have a chance to have his wares noticed too by the larger user base. There are some bright minds with bright ideas out there that need attention, and I only see Symbian-Freak & All About Symbian sites highlighting them and their Python (PyS60 based) applications available for S60. Now they have their own community site as well. But many users, even Nokia Ambassadors are not aware of what is out there.
Nokia … S60 is not only about devices and the apps available, it’s the community behind that gave it its strength. We’re trying to help S60 grow, its time you and your collaboration of partners get to help those apps know the community as well.