From Epoc to Symbian

Bear with me because I am going to talk about Psion again. We all know what went wrong for the company many years ago and why it never dominated the world of PDAs in the way that Palm did, but there was a missed opportunity of unrivalled proportions for which I have struggled to forgive Nokia ever since.

From Psion’s EPOC came Symbian, a mobile operating system that somehow managed to build on the core architecture and also remove all of the good bits that made Psion PDAs so wonderful to use. Pick up a Psion PDA today and you can still marvel at the calendar which was decades ahead of its time. You can still look at the performance and wonder why all devices don’t work this way today and turn green with envy at the 30 day battery life from 2 AA batteries. Of course there were many reasons for this level of performance and most of them do not stack up today; no internet connectivity, no colour screens and devices that are laughingly large by today’s standards.

They did, however, have multi-tasking, the ability to share data between the core apps and thousands of apps of which many worked brilliantly. When Nokia took the reins we were presented with so-called smartphones that did away with the PDA side and instead concentrated on mobile connectivity more than anything else. Symbian showed no remnants of Nokia at all and you would never have believed that they were even related. Such a crying shame that EPOC as we knew it disappeared when there was a chance that it could have lived on in the mobile world.

I am harking back to a time few of you will remember, but I cannot help thinking that Nokia killed EPOC, or at least the parts we as consumers liked, when it could have taken advantage of a mobile operating system that was way ahead of its time.