Speaking at the Symbian Partner Conference yesterday, AT&T Director of Next Generation Services Roger Smith hinted that the Symbian platform is a leading candidate to begin a massive consolidation of mobile platforms offered by the carrier by 2014.
Smith rationalized the potential choice of Symbian by making references to the current system where AT&T has to support multiple branded devices with different operating systems and platforms which has led to fragmentation and implementation issues with Java, Windows Mobile, and Palm OS on top of increasingly expensive customer support for each platform.
This centers on the ability of the carrier to offer a consistent set of applications and services across the entire handset lineup without issues, while admitting that the carrier has not done a good job of managing its implementation of Java ME.
He also touched on the iPhone, noting that Apple was in complete control of the device, and that AT&T is solely providing the infrastructure for network access, while emphasizing that other possible platform choices would all be open to developers in order to offer the kinds of applications and experiences that customers wanted and that Java ultimately failed to deliver as a consequence of a lack of software access and extensibility.
The choice to deploy a Symbian based OS across an entire carrier lineup is not unprecedented as Japanese carrier NTTDoCoMo has deployed Symbian on three generations of its entire high-end lineup for three years beginning in 2005 before moving to a custom deployment of MontaVista Linux this year. Â
Symbian does allow for complete control of applications and multiple levels of filesystem access, and can be customized to support branding, protected applications, and different user interfaces while allowing for varying levels of customization by the user.