Nokia Boss Pledges Symbian Support Until 2016

Stephen Elop has pledged to continue supporting Symbian until at least 2016, but said nothing about MeeGo

Nokia has given its clearest indication yet over the future of Symbian, after CEO Stephen Elop used an interview to confirm that Symbian support will continue to until at least 2016.

Elop made the commitment during a video interview (in English) on Nokia’s Conversations China blog.

Approximately 2 minutes and 43 seconds into the interview, Elop was asked about the future of Symbian after the decision announced in February to utilise Windows Phone 7 as Nokia’s smartphone operating system of choice going forward.

Five Year Timeframe

Elop responded by acknowledging that there had been lots of questions about Symbian and said the following.

“We have been very clear about that, that software updates for Symbian devices are expected to last at least until 2016, so there a long history still to be paved for Symbian in the future,” said Elop.

“So that commitment means customer services and applications,” asked the interviewer?

“That is correct,” replied Elop. Until now, Nokia had previously hinted that Symbian support would end by 2014.

This occurred when the managing director of Nokia Australia, Chris Carr, told reporters in Sydney in April that contractual arrangements would see Nokia supporting new Symbian phones on the market for two years after they were released, meaning a 2014 cut off date.

Under Elop’s tenure, Nokia is undergoing some profound changes including job losses and strategic changes.

MeeGo Questions

Nokia has promised additional Symbian devices in 2012, which will likely be its last.

In April Nokia shifted responsibilities for the Symbian OS to outsourcing specialist Accenture – along with approximately 3,000 Nokia employees, who will eventually be retrained to support Windows Phone.

Elop’s decision to clarify the future for Symbian comes as he remains more cautious about revealing plans about Nokia’s other white elephant in the room, namely that of the MeeGo operating system, which could be utilised for a different Nokia platform.

Nokia is known to be working on its own tablet. But when asked about a Nokia tablet in an earlier interview in Finland, Elop said that the Nokia team was still assessing whether the tablet should run Windows, MeeGo or Symbian.

This comes despite grainy images of an unidentified Nokia tablet reportedly running MeeGo appeared in January.