Symbian to play application middle man

The Symbian Foundation announced an application publishing programme on Thursday afternoon that will see it attempt to bridge the gap between developers and application stores. Dubbed Symbian Horizon, the new initiative was described by Symbian’s Sean Puckrin, who is leading the programme, as equivalent to a record label in the music business.

The aim of Horizon is to offer a range of services to developers to help them get Symbian friendly versions of their applications into various stores. At launch, the Foundation is working with Nokia’s Ovi store, the Samsung Application Store and US carrier AT&T’s Media Mall. Services will include language translation, UI construction and porting from one platform to another, as well as marketing and certification. Developers working on the launch phase of the project include UK newspaper The Guardian, Dynatech, MobileIron, National Public Radio (NPR), Skout, Ustream, and

The presence of dating app Skout, which has had success on the iPhone, gives a hint as to Symbian’s Strategy, which seems in part to be seeking already successful apps and offering to help them port to Symbian in a bid to create a reliable stable of applications.

“[Developers] see the volume and opportunity on Symbian,” Puckrin told, “but there’s a little bit of last mile work required to help operators actually seize that opportunity. We’ve had positive feedback from developers; they see it as addressing a number of the issues they foresee on going to market on Symbian,” he said.

Puckrin conceded that not all developers would feel the need to exploit the new service, which is probably a good thing for the Foundation, given that it plans to work on an app by app, bespoke basis, which could prove extremely time consuming.

“It is a lot of work,” he said, “and it won’t be thousands of applications to start with. It will scale over time and we’re expecting it to really take off around October.”

The involvement of Symbian Foundation founder member AT&T is also interesting, as it points towards the Foundation’s desire to spread the geographical appeal of its OS to developers. “One aspect of the programme is to look at companies that don’t have Symbian on their doorstep, in the US, for example, and help them understand the great opportunity worldwide that exists for them if they port their applications to Symbian.”

One comment

  1. Avatar iPhone App Developer 20/07/2009 @ 1:14 pm

    It’s a good move by Symbian but if I’m being harsh I think it’s a little timid; why didn’t they get buy in from the manufacturers and launch a Symbian App Store?
    One store would be far stronger than the current situation of all the manufacturers using Symbian ‘having a go at an app store’…

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