Windows Mobile, Palm and Symbian = Windows, Mac and Amiga

by Mike Levin SEO & Datamaster, 12/23/2005

Last week, I switched to the Sony Ericsson P910a, running Symbian UIQ. There’s a crop of phones on the horizon I would have liked to have checked out, including the Trio 700 and the Motorola Q, which would have kept me on the Windows Mobile platform. But a broken phone predicated the switch, so I decided to expose myself to a little more than just the next version of Windows Mobile. A couple of my friends are on the Sony Ericsson P800/900 series phones and love them, so I decided to give it a try. It’s not an easy phone to track down, and you can only find it if you know what you’re looking for.

The phone that broke was a Samsung i700 Pocket PC phone, running Windows Mobile 2003. I was on the Samsung for over a year, and was pretty happy with it, though I was forced to use the stylus for basic operations more than I would have liked. Before that, I had a separate cell phone and PDA (Palm). So, it’s official now: I’ve been on what I’m coming to view as the Mac, PC and Amiga of smartphone operating systems. The Palm is like the Mac (before OSX), and Windows Mobile is (naturally) like the PC, and Symbian I am coming to discover more every day is like the Amiga, but perhaps without the guru crashes (I have yet to try Linux and Blackberry).

In my year using the Samsung i700, I never once was tempted to put MP3’s on it, and use it as a MP3 player. But somehow, the Sony Ericsson just invited this, so I plugged in a bunch of music, started it playing, and switched over to an RSS news reader with the music continuing seamlessly in the background. If this weren’t enough to give me haunting echoes of the Amiga, the clincher was when the downloading window popped up, and I was able to grab it by the title bar and slide it vertically up and down (as if on rails). For anyone familiar with the Amgia, this was the defining characteristic of Amiga multitasking.

I tried out a couple of games, such as the car racing game V-Rally and a 3D pool game, and saw complete 3D-engines making me realize I was holding a little Playstation-like device. So, the games appear superior to most I’ve been exposed to on telephones. But the aesthetics of Symbian UIQ come up just a little short, such as the Spartan “arches” that serve as tabs over the application icons. And the apps come up just a little short, such as the email programs not letting you accept appointment requests sent from Outlook, and the inability to quickly start writing an email in one or two clicks. So, in short, superior multitasking, superior games and hardware capability, but unpolished OS and apps.

Yes indeed, the mobile phone space is going through the exact process as desktops with the elitist OS with a fair claim to being first (Mac/Palm), the mainstream OS that has clam to the most polished and popular apps (Windows/Windows Mobile), and the kooky OS in the fringes where the gamer and hacker spirit exists, with overtones of inferiority complex elitism that only ex-Amiga aficionados will appreciate.