Can Symbian BREW Blackberry?

Perspectives of Wireless Marketing Wars - Who will Be the Winner?


Kharkov, Ukraine -- (ReleaseWire) -- 06/02/2006 --According to the research held by analytics company Canalys the market of “smart” mobile devices in Europe, Near East and Africa grows more rapidly than market of mobile phones. Within the first half of 2005 9.6 million of smartphones and PDAs were sold compared to 3.6 million during the same period of the previous year. Such trend is observed worldwide – almost 70 million full feature handsets are sold worldwide. According to analysts the two main processes in progress stipulate such growth at the moment. On the one hand, ordinary users interchange their old smartphones and PDAs to newer ones. On the other hand, there is an upsurge in interest in mobile E-mail and extended abilities of smart mobile devices from companies and corporations.

Modern smart mobile systems are to be: always available (small sized / handy), always On (optimized memory usage, minimal battery use), extensible (new software can be added if necessary), affordable, and of various form factors. Moreover, a smart mobile device should combine the maximum of mobile technologies available at the moment: GPS, VoIP, Bluetooth, IrDa, GPRS/EDGE, Wi-Fi, mobile E-mail, support of HTTP protocol, MP3 etc. This is a vast domain for competition among manufacturers of operation systems for smartphones and PDAs.

There are several very large players in this market: Symbian OS, BREW OS, Blackberry OS, Windows Mobile OS and Palm OS etc.

Experts’ Area
Ulf Morys, General Manager at Gameloft GmbH:

“ - Symbian: more important in the future, but still niche market (Nokia market share ca. 33 % overall; not more than 1/3 of this Symbian phones & some other Symbian phones). Overall optimistic estimate: ca. 10 % of total newly sold phone base.
- BlackBerry: interesting for business / productivity applications; no mass market.
- WindowsCE: difficult to judge. Microsoft will keep pushing it’s platform, but results were often unsatisfactory in the past; make sure that the partners can actually bill for applications delivered to this platform. We’ve seen problems with this.
- BREW: real mass market potential in US and Chinese market, not very relevant for European market.”


SYMBIAN – is a software licensing company that develops and supplies the advanced, open, standard operating system – Symbian OS – for data-enabled mobile phones and PDAs.

As of September 2005 60 phones that run under Symbian OS from eight manufacturers are shipped worldwide and a further 56 phones from eleven manufacturers (among them Fujitsu, Mitsubishi, Nokia, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, BenQ and Motorola) were in development. Symbian OS is an undisputed sales leader in Europe and has a strong market share in other countries. Currently Symbian’s market share is 55.9 per cent from worldwide sales (according to IDC analytics company), at that 82 per cent of devices were manufactured by Nokia (in whole since 2005 beginning there were sold approximately 34 million data enabled devices with Symbian OS on board).

Experts’ Area

Philip Solis, ABI Research senior analyst, author of the study “Smartphones: The Market for Smartphones and Smartphone Operating Systems”:

“Symbian’s chief advantages are that it is easy to build applications for, and that it has a large developer community. Disadvantages are that Symbian is primarily limited to Nokia handsets, and its market is concentrated in “GSM-heavy” regions.”

19 of 60 devices with Symbian OS support WCDMA. By the way, smartphone Nokia 6680 is recognized a 3G world bestseller telephone.

Key features of Symbian OS

Rich suite of application engines – the suite includes engines for contacts, schedule, messaging, browsing, utility and system control; OBEX for exchanging objects such as appointments (using vCalendar) and business cards (vCard); integrated APIs for data management, text, clipboard and graphics
Browsing – supports WAP 1.2.1 for mobile browsing
Messaging – multimedia messaging (MMS), enhanced messaging (EMS) and SMS; internet mail using POP3, IMAP4, SMTP and MHTML; attachments; fax
Multimedia – audio and video support for recording, playback and streaming; image conversion
Graphics – direct access to screen and keyboard for high performance; graphics accelerator API
Communications protocols – wide-area networking stacks including TCP/IP (dual mode IPv4/v6) and WAP, personal area networking support include infrared (IrDA), Bluetooth® wireless technology and USB; support is also provided for multihoming capabilities and link layer Quality-of-Service (QoS) on GPRS/UMTS networks
Mobile telephony – Symbian OS is ready for the 3G market with support for GSM circuit switched voice and data (CSD and EDGE ECSD) and packet-based data (GPRS and EDGE EGPRS); CDMA circuit switched voice, data and packet-based data (IS-95, cdma2000 1x, and WCDMA); SIM, RUIM and UICC Toolkit; other standards can be implemented by licensees through extensible APIs of the telephony subsystem
International support – conforms to Unicode Standard version 3.0
Data synchronization – over-the-air (OTA) synchronization support using SyncML; PC-based synchronization over serial, Bluetooth® wireless technology, Infrared and USB; a PC Connectivity framework providing the ability to transfer files and synchronize PIM data
Security – full encryption and certificate management, secure protocols (HTTPS, WTLS and SSL and TLS), WIM framework and certificate-based application installation
Developing for Symbian OS – content development options include: C++, Java (J2ME) MIDP 2.0 and PersonalJava 1.1.1a (with JavaPhone 1.0 option), and WAP; tools are available for building C++ and Java applications and ROMs with support for on-target debugging
User Inputs – generic input mechanism supporting full keyboard, 0-9*# (numeric mobile phone keypad), voice, handwriting recognition and predictive text input.


BREW - Binary Runtime Environment for Wireless is a combination OS, application platform, and marketing system. BREW started with QUALCOMM-based CDMA chipsets and technology – a vast market – but BREW is independent of the wireless technology utilized by a particular handset or network and can support other wireless technologies. Ideally, BREW can work with any device, and Qualcomm is planning to port it to Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM). Qualcomm is trying to remove the gap between GSM and CDMA operators. As CDMA strengthened hand, the GSM lobby propped its own version of CDMA which they named WCDMA (Wideband CDMA). WCDMA has been launched in a group of countries (80 operators in 29 countries), and many more are gearing to launch it within this year, it is already successfully running in countries like Korea, Japan, China, India, Brazil and in some parts of North America.

So far prevalent in the CDMA domain, BREW is gradually transiting to the GSM bastion of Europe as the continent's operators introduce 3G services based on WCDMA (by the end of year 2005 the number of WCDMA networks users worldwide increased by 2,6 times compared to December 31, 2004 and reached 43,81 million users). Such a scenario could make Qualcomm a worldwide flag carrier in mobile market. In all, 40 commercial BREW device manufacturers (Audiovox, Kyocera, LG, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, BenQ etc.) offer over 135 BREW-enabled devices – as of January, 2006 according to Qualcomm. Almost 10% of all handsets shipped worldwide are BREW compatible and the number of application downloads (May 2005) exceeds 300 million. The success of BREW has been built on CDMA platforms of major mobile operators, including Verizon Wireless, China Unicom, Telstra and KDDI.

Regardless of platform, BREW requires little memory (150KB), which makes BREW applications workable even on low-end phones.

BREW provides basic capabilities for such advanced services as GPS, VoIP, Bluetooth 1.1, MP3 and MIDI support, video recording and playback, multimedia streaming, e-mail. The set of BREW services includes communication capabilities of TCP/UDP sockets, HTTP protocol support, SMS-MMS services, extended telephony capabilities. BREW supports several programming languages including Java, and via extensions BREW understands C/C++, interactive animation Flash and XML.

The Wall Street Journal paralleled BREW with Microsoft Windows in wireless communication domain.

Experts’ Area

Victoria Alexandrova, Project Manager, PDA applications Department of QArea Company: “Who I see a winner? Symbian, of course. It is convenient, applicable, multi functional and easy for understanding. However, if I were in the USA I definitely would rather use BlackBerry, since they provide top quality service.”


BLACKBERRY – is a proprietary operating system, provided by RIM (Research in Motion, Canada), for the BlackBerry devices and BlackBerry enabled devices (BlackBerry email is already on a few handsets including Siemens SK65, Nokia 6820/6822, Motorola MPx220). BlackBerry is one of the leading wireless solutions, which allows users to stay connected with wireless access to email, corporate data, phone, web and organizer features. The true power of BlackBerry is mailbox integration. BlackBerry can integrate seamlessly with a user's existing corporate or personal email account providing a wireless extension of their regular e-mailbox.

The first BlackBerry was released in early 1999. The first BlackBerry with integrated cell phone, as well as the first BlackBerry sold outside of North America was released in 2001, using the European GSM/GPRS standard. RIM at the moment has a very dominant position in the mobile email market. BlackBerry is used worldwide, available from 95 wireless carriers in 40 countries. In November 2004, RIM announced the number of subscribers to the BlackBerry service to have reached two million, having doubled within ten months. Proceeding their steady growth, RIM announced an additional one million subscribers in May 2005, only six months after having reached two million.

Experts’ Area

Rudy de Waele, CEO at Random One (R1):

“The market is going more Symbian due to the strategic moves Symbian did with S60 platform, delivering Symbian to various devices of different brand manufacturers and Nokia’s latest partnership with Vodafone to increase the use of S60 as a standard software platform.

Windows Mobile is going to catch up bit by bit, they have the market advantage in US and they can benefit from the Microsoft PC/Mobile synchronization that becomes more and more popular and is a crucial element for the success of mobile data services, but I don’t see them getting quickly at the same level of Symbian on a global level, it’s going to take at least 4-5 years for them to catch-up, if ever they will...

Meanwhile I don’t see a bright future for Palm OS, neither BREW, though BREW is still quite strong in the market due to Qualcomm strength on the market.

Nobody can compete with Symbian as of now, their competitors will have to come up with a stronger OS and that doesn’t look obvious.

At last, don’t forget about Linux who has a lot of potential, specifically in mobile, I see a bright and growing future for them.”

No wonder, RIM manufactures a top notch device (with BlackBerry OS on board) that is secure, stable, and dominates market share with state and local government, the military, and with commercial corporations. In 2005 RIM was the first largest PDA supplier, and their technology BlackBerry occupied the second place among OS manufacturers giving Microsoft product the go-by.

RIM develops its own software for its devices, using C++ and Java technology. Third party developers applications must be digitally signed, that guarantees the application authorship.

Available services are: Wireless Email Service, Wireless Calendar Service, Wireless Internet (HTML and WAP formats) Services, Voice and SMS, Mobile Data Service, Attachment Service, Instant Messenger, GPS Service, Bluetooth etc.

The full feature handsets market is hard to predict, however almost all analysts predict steady and increasing growth of this market (which is observed at the moment). Each manufacturer aspires to create a common OS to globalize and standardize application development, distribution and management (as they say) to develop applications for all but not for each distinct device. Some people welcome such opportunity and some are bothered by possible monopolization and subsequent abuses in this domain. What is observed at the moment that each of the manufacturers had occupied a distinct characteristic niche, where he is successful, and already from there with mixed success tries to “conquer” the mobile wireless world.

Experts’ Area

Alexei Golovashov, Senior QA Engineer, QArea Group:

“BlackBerry? One of its main advantages is an advanced ergonomics both of the device itself and its software. The user interface, as of today, I suppose, is one of the best among developed for PDA devices. While its main disadvantage is absence of memory card. Absence of the latter means that it can not be used for other purposes, it is narrow directed. I use my Symbian as MP3 player and to watch movies. I will not be able to use BlackBerry for that even if I want to. BlackBerry is convenient only for business domain, I guess, while Symbian also can be used as a game platform, and its a rather essential part of users who use it that way. BREW, from my point of view, has no bright future at all. J2ME is that well-developed that nobody pays attention to BREW. Furthermore, all BREW applications are to be certified, that complicates their usage and distribution,” - says Alexei Golovashov, QArea's Senior QA Engineer.

What then

The whole world, and wireless market in particular, moves toward high speeds, multiple functions and extended business possibilities. 3G networks is the next inevitable stage of mobile market development. It provides plenty of capabilities both for business and entertainment, communication and data transfer, Internet access and mobile e-mailing. Most of 3G devices should combine all available 3G technologies to be competitive. This factor will also affect the development of devices and operating systems for them. As we can see, the mobile market requires a device that could fullest reveal the capabilities of next generation mobile networks 3G and 4G. These numbers are dramatic confirmation of 3G leading position: 173 Commercial 3G Operators in 75 Countries worldwide (as of February 02, 2006), over 228 million reported 3G CDMA subscribers (as of November 30, 2005), 826 models of 3G devices worldwide. The industry standard for 3G wireless networks consists of 5 operating modes – three of them are based on CDMA technology: CDMA2000, WCDMA (UMTS) and TD-SCDMA. In this light BREW OS has a great opportunity to become a leader, though Nokia 6680 under Symbian OS is a 3G world bestseller telephone. The services by 3G carriers are quite actual already – 80% of British mobile users are ready to pay for mobile TV service, nothing to say about GPS, high-speed packet data access and high quality voice services.

Still large companies, financial giants, transnational corporations and government institutions adhere to the tried technologies – they use BlackBerry – undisputed leader in enterprise mobile solutions for mobile professionals and seek no alternative for it. However, if You still want an alternative for You BlackBerry You should be set for paying a pretty penny of some $500 for a new device and a new connection and it is not easy at all to find an equal substitution.

And let us don’t forget that more players like Windows Mobile OS and Linux OS are on their way and hit their stride.

Undoubtedly, there’s still a long way to go: Symbian powered nearly 34 million devices last year, more than double what Microsoft was able to ship, but the gap is narrowing.

MS provided an adequate tool set for the developers to develop software for their platform. In many ways they are helping to open up software innovation on devices. While developers for Symbian OS quite often complain of its being bad documented and too many OS versions. Microsoft’s long legacy includes an understanding of the Developer and providing Developers tools. Symbian is a newcomer. Still, we shouldn’t forget about the power of open source: Why would a Developer want to restrict themselves into a platform with a proprietary software code? Some experts consider that just the developer support is going to be key in who wins in the consumer market place.

Much also depends on marketing and promotion: Symbian's operating system is used in many top-end business phones today, because of its support for features such as PIM, voice-conferencing, push email and Web access. Nokia phone stands for world recognized brand and image phone – and it does pay dividends. To have Nokia’s smartphone is almost the same as to drive Mercedes.

The potential of growing markets should also be considered: the demand for mobile phones in India, China, Eastern Europe and Africa is not a new phenomenon. Just in time enter a growing market and you can lead the race (Industry analysts forecast that 80% of the next billion mobile phone customers will come from emerging markets).

This is a niche market, all around. We say Europe – we mean Symbian, we say USA – we mean Windows Mobile, BlackBerry and BREW. BREW – is limited to CDMA markets (US and Chinese markets), Blackberry – is closely tied to business and corporate clients, Symbian is prevailing mainly in Europe: it turns out they have nothing to “brew”. I hope none of them comes to dominate, since that is a recipe for stagnation; the 3 equally balanced would be perfect for fair competition and product development. We can not provide adequate predictions for someone's success or failure. It will be just a forecast.

All is left is to guess who to place stake on …


Serge Bocharov
Oksana Lutikova
Eugene Kovalik