[CoMoDev] Re: Mobile device market trends

  • From: David Beers <david@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <comodev@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 3 Jun 2004 09:37:10 -0600

You read my mind, Ed.  I was just about to ask you about your Symbian article. 
Sounds like the popularity of Symbian "Series 60" might be as much because 
vendors like having a standard that resolves some of the software 
incompatibility issues as because it saves them the cost of developing a new 

While we're on the subject of Symbian and compatibility issues...

A talented developer in Sweden that I know (those who frequent palm-dev-forum 
also know Aaron Ardiri) has teamed up with some other developers to produce an 
interesting cross-platform development kit that allows you to write software 
for Palm, WinCE, Windows Smartphone and Symbian Series 60 from a single code 
base.  They call it SHARK and in addition to its cross-platform appeal it is 
attractive because it uses an abstraction layer for recompiling the code for 
each device, as opposed to a runtime interpreter that would be slow on devices 
without fast processors.


When last I reviewed it, SHARK had an API that was suitable for writing games 
(it had a good graphics primitive layer) but still lacked a lot of what you'd 
expect for doing other applications: form and database APIs in particular.  
Aaron compares its current state to DOS--it mostly does BIOS level stuff. 
That's a fairly significant shortcoming, to be sure, but I just had a chat with 
him and he's working now on the form and database APIs.  I'm under an NDA with 
him so I probably shouldn't say too much, but it will be interesting to see how 
this develops.  He seems to be quite motivated to move all of his own 
development to the SHARK platform and has some medical apps that will require 
these APIs.

The Java folks have it right, I think, that in the long run it'll be best (and 
possible) to "write once, run everywhere."  The GUI is the tricky part with 
something like J2ME or SHARK, it seems to me.  People are used to the Palm 
look-and-feel, or the PocketPC, or Series 60.  So do you go down the very 
sticky path of trying to use the native GUI of each device, or do you go the 
safer but less user-friendly route of creating your own GUI and making it 
consistent across platforms (a la Swing)?


On 03 Jun 2004 06:47:04 -0600, Ed wrote:
> Howdy all!
> I wrote an article about Symbian for Computer Edge
> (www.computeredge.com) some time ago. (I wish I could remember the
> issue date, but I can't!)
> The article contains a brief history of Symbian, and some of the
> GUI problems.
> Here's some of what I wrote:
> GUI Problems
> Early on in Symbian OS development the consortium members decided
> against a common GUI for Symbian OS. They thought that this would
> allow them each to develop their own GUI for Symbian OS, preserving
> the completely different look and feel of their mobile phone
> interfaces (as if this were a good thing!)
> In practice, this means that each different Symbian OS comes with
> its own problems and challenges.
> Due to the difficulty and expense of producing a GUI for Symbian
> OS, most companies don't bother. Nokia licenses their GUI and many
> handset manufacturers have decided to concentrate their engineering
> resources elsewhere. These Series 60 handsets provide a de facto
> standard that third party developers can aim at.

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