The WDN Symbian DevZone - Sony Ericsson P800 Application Proclamation
by Richard Bloor, February 17, 2003
The winning applications in the Sony Ericsson’s P800 Application Proclamation
were announced last month. This week we review the Proclamation with Mikael
Nerde Sony Ericsson’s Developer Program Relations Manager and take a look at
two developers who were encouraged to develop their first commercial application
for Symbian OS.
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The goal of the Sony Ericsson Application Proclamation was to find high quality
applications which would help drive sales of the P800, while also encouraging
developers who had not previously worked with the Symbian OS to add it to their
development portfolio. While the number of applications Sony Ericsson judged as
deserving winner status was perhaps less than they had hoped for all but one of
the developers was new to the Symbian OS and in that respect the competition
was a success.
Reflecting back on the Application Proclamation, Mikael Nerde Developer Program
Relations Manager said, "We hit a couple of bumps early on. We got some
negative feedback from developers because we applied a technical support fee to
entering the competition, and in many ways I think we launched the competition
too soon. At the start of the competition SDK’s and tools were not as ready as we
would have liked and there was a very limited supply of phones. Unfortunately
this took something away from the result we should have had. The final winners
however, I think, are a good mix of applications and are of a very good quality."
Two of the winning developers were ICOM Consulting and 12Planet.
ICOM Consulting International (http://www.icomcons.com) is a New York based
company specializing in Software application design and development. In addition
to serving clients with custom applications and services they have also developed
a product called MobiPassword (http://www.mobipassword.com) which allows a
PDA user to securely store their passwords and, when the PDA is connected to a
PC, deliver the passwords to a service or system log on, in effect automating
Sample MobiPassword screen shots
The Sony Ericsson Application Proclamation appealed to ICOM because of their
perception of how the PDA market is evolving. Drago Boykov ICOM’s CEO
commented that “we think that smartphones are the future of PDAs, and the P800
in particular is the brightest example of a smartphone around, with the best set of
features available today and enormous potential. It’s an excellent way for Sony
Ericsson to enter into the new age of smartphones.”
ICOM had already developed versions of MobiPassword for both the Palm and
Microsoft Pocket PC prior to undertaking a port to the Symbian OS and the P800.
“We were delighted to find that Symbian OS does not in any way offer less than
Windows CE, so porting our flagship application, which is pretty sophisticated,
from Windows CE to Symbian did not pose any substantial problems. Of course,
there were issues, basically we had to rewrite the GUI, but altogether it was a
relatively easy process” said Drago.
MobiPassword is a C++ application and as a result ICOM used the Metrowerks
CodeWarrior IDE to develop the application. “Code Warrior is a very good
Development Environment in both the Palm and Symbian OS versions. The fact
that it was a very familiar development environment for us definitely helped” said
Drago. “Still we did have lots of new things to learn because of the differences
between the SDK for P800 and the Palm OS SDK. For example, multi-tasking,
memory management, relational database support and the object orientated
nature of the Symbian OS.”
Compared to the other operating systems they have developed for, Drago feels that
“Symbian OS is a worthy competitor for both Palm OS and Windows CE. The
attention given by Symbian OS to issues such as memory management and
freeing up memory resources in critical events is a real step forward.”
The Application Proclamation also wetted ICOM’s appetite for the P800 and
Symbian OS. They have already started porting MobiPassword to Series 60. In
addition ICOM have developed a number of games and are currently porting three
Palm OS games, MiniPolis, Qubix, and Brush Roller, to the P800 and will
probably follow with Series 60 and 80 ports as well.
12Planet (http://www.12planet.com) is a French developer specializing in Instant
Communication server solutions who have built up an impressive client base,
including Coca-Cola, Toyota and JP Morgan Chase, for their Instant Messaging,
Chat and Forum servers. They recognized that the next generation of mobile
phones would allow users to carry advanced interactive communication
applications everywhere they go, literally unleashing the full power of those
applications. “We wanted to expand our IM solutions to the mobile world, the
SonyEricsson Developer Contest provided a good reason to start” commented Lei
Jin, CEO of 12Planet.
Sample screen captures from 12Planet
As such 12Planet IM for Symbian is their first software application for the mobile
market. 12Planet undertook the development in Java using Visual Café and
Visual J++ in combination with the UIQ SDK, which was used mainly for unit
testing. They encountered some initial set-up problems when configuring the
emulator, as some of the environment variables did not seem to be set up when
the SDK was installed. However these issues were resolved quickly with the
assistance of the Sony Ericsson support team at Metrowerks and Lei noted that
the service was “effective and useful”. Once these initial set up problems were
resolved they found that the SDK worked well.
They were pleased with the Java support within Symbian OS. “We have
developed our own library of GUI classes from the basic AWT APIs” said Lei “this
allowed us to overcome the lack of advanced graphical widgets in PersonalJava.
Of course, there are some restrictions on the memory size, the number of
threads, which you don’t have in PC or Server applications that we needed to
considered while writing the application, but they were acceptable. Actually,
overall we were pleasantly surprised by the simplicity of writing applications for
As a result of this work 12Planet are also considering migrating to other Symbian
OS User Interfaces and are reviewing the market requirements before
undertaking any development. “It may also make sense to work more closely with
Symbian directly in order to make the port of the applications really transparent
from one interface to another.” said Lei.
A demonstration version of 12Planets IM Client will be available on their web site
Overall the total number of applications submitted suggested to Mikael that there
is a “considerable interest in the P800 and Symbian OS amongst application
developers”. Looking forward Sony Ericsson have already started to think about
future competitions. “I can not say exactly when we will run our next
competition, but it is likely to be open to everyone and free to enter, although the
prizes may be more modest.” said Mikael, “In the meantime developers have
access to the development tools and our technical support services. The next few
months will see the P800 rolled out on a global basis, as it does so we hope to see
numerous new cool, innovative, easy-to-use and practical applications being
developed for Symbian OS.”
About the WDN Symbian Editor, Richard Bloor:Symbian DevZone Home
Richard Bloor has 16 years experience in the IT industry. His earlier
work was largely in design and development of commercial and
manufacturing systems but more recently has focused on
development and test management of government systems.
Richard Bloor is the Mobile Applications champion at System
Architecture consultancy Equinox of Wellington, New Zealand.
Richard can be reached at email@example.com.
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