Nokia has told developers the Nokia Ovi Store will stop accepting new software or updates from January 2014, two years earlier than originally promised.
The decision to end support for the phones goes against a promise that Nokia’s CEO Stephen Elop made in 2011, when the Symbian and Meego operating systems were dropped, when he said that Symbian would be supported until at least 2016.
“Over the next few months we will be transitioning our active developer support away from Symbian and MeeGo.
If you have Symbian and MeeGo content in the Nokia Store, it will continue to be available for download to customers, and you will continue to receive download and revenue reports as well as payouts for downloaded content. However, starting January 1, 2014, you will no longer be able to publish any new content or update existing content for Symbian and MeeGo.”
The memo gives the explanation for this move, that will come as a big disappointment to its developer community, that Nokia has:
“decided to focus our support and investment in new content toward Asha and Windows Phone.”
The decision comes just six weeks after the news that Microsoft is to acquire Nokia's device and services unit at a cost of just over $7 billion. a deal which hands the Asha and Lumia brands over to Microsoft but restricts the right to use the Nokia name to current Nokia products only.
As Symbian and Meego are no longer part of the "current" product range presumably the decision not to extend support for a further two years is port of a rationalisation that would have happened when the acquisition was completed, something that is expected to happen in the first quarter of 2014. On this occasion the Microsoft spring cleaning broom seems to have been put into action ahead of time.
Although neither OS is in production there are still millions of active Symbian devices and the market for apps is likely to be bigger then that for WP8 for some time. Developers will continue to get some cash but updates and any new apps are now effectively dead as official Nokia apps. Developers with sufficient motivation may be able to continue to issue apps via third party app downloads but users aren't likely to find this a convenient or attractive solution. It remains to be seen how many users and developers feel that WP8 is worth moving to.
In addition to upsetting developers, the news about Symbian is likely to disappoint hackers, as according to a recent report from the US Department of Homeland Security, Symbian OS is still the second most targeted mobile operating system, with 19 percent of all known malware designed for it. Android came top with 79 percent.