Feb 20

So, on the 11th of February 2011 Nokia announced that they’re going to ditch Symbian and Meego in favor of the Windows Phone platform. This has sent tremors across the Finnish IT-industry which has been heavily dependent on Nokia. What this means is that potentially thousands of people working directly or indirectly on Symbian and/or Meego will be forced to find new job opportunities. Of course, the change won’t happen overnight but it is obvious that less and less money will be diverted towards Nokia’s own platforms in the coming months.

The organic growth of the Finnish outsourcing companies (which is where I work) has been heavily dependent on Nokia, and chances are Nokia’s decision will hit them hard. Nokia has decided that there will be minimal customizations to the Nokia Windows Phone devices, which means that there will be minimal amount of work to be done to customize the phones. Obviously, lots and lots of people will be moving on from Nokia projects to pastures new.

At the moment no one knows how things will proceed from here. It is certain that there will be layoffs and lots of them, since there is just not going to be enough work for everyone. This doesn’t concern just engineers, but also management, IT-support, HR-personnel and others who have worked more or less directly with Symbian and/or Meego.

For what it’s worth, I’ve been working with Symbian for six years and it certainly has taken its toll. I have no sympathy for its fate. I haven’t seen Meego so I can’t say much about it, other than what I’ve read from the press.

Obviously this is a time when one must be very alert to what the future will bring. Since Symbian is a dying breed, there’s no reason to invest in it anymore. Meego and Qt also received heavy blows with Nokia’s announcement, so their future (both immediate and long-term) look uncertain. Windows Phone is a big question mark, even with Nokia’s backing; the platform has been on the market for a few months and it has generated just a small amount of buzz.

Personally, I see two opportunities in my future: Android and iOS. Both are hot commodities at the moment, especially with Android’s rocket-like surge in popularity since its release by Google in 2008. Development on iOS is done using Objective-C, while on Android, Java is the language of choice. The most natural transition for me is of course Android, with Java being closely related to C++. Java is of course an “easier” language than C++, enabling faster pace of development, although it also has its own characteristics that have to be learned in order to be able to use the language effectively. With Android’s Native Development Kit (NDK) it is also possible to write C++ code when speed or closer access to hardware is of essential importance.

In fact, I decided to start investing in Android already last summer, when I bought the Samsung Galaxy S to replace my iPhone with a view to learning Android development. During last autumn I started to have a look at Android and did some small-scale experiments. A few weeks ago I got an idea of an application that I started to write with my then-acquired skills. It has taken a few intense weeks of my free time, I’ve learnt tremendously, and I’m proud to say that my first Market-worthy application, LoanShark, is ready.

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