Mobile OS developer seeks commercially minded chief

Symbian needs a commercially minded replacement for Colly Myers, who stepped down as chief executive on Friday, if it is to succeed against Microsoft and Palm
Written by Graeme Wearden, Contributor

The departure on Friday of Symbian's chief executive Colly Myers has left the way open for a more commercially focused replacement. Industry experts, to whom the announcement of Myers' departure came as a surprise, believe that there is now an opportunity for the consortium to appoint someone who can make a bigger impact in the mobile operating system space.

David Potter, chairman of Psion, has taken temporary charge of Symbian, and as such is unlikely to remain as a permanent figurehead.

Symbian did not disclose the reason behind the departure of Myers -- which follows the loss of several other key executives in recent years. Myers' departure comes only a fortnight after Symbian won over £20m in new funding.

In a statement Symbian confirmed that a new chief executive would be appointed "in due course", and paid tribute to the work of Myers, who was described as "charismatic" by the Financial Times.

"I would like to thank Colly Myers for the remarkable job he has done in nurturing the company to its current position. He leaves the company with the confident expectation that a wide-ranging roll-out of commercial products will take place," said Koki Suda, a director at Matsushita -- part of the Symbian consortium.

Tim Mui, analyst at IDC, suggested that Myers's departure was an opportunity for Symbian to appoint someone with a focus on commercial issues.

"Colly Myers never seemed interested in putting the Symbian brand name onto the devices that used its software, for example. The firm has been good at getting its software out on time, but it's not really pushed the hardware manufacturers enough," Mui said. "Look at Microsoft and Palm, who have been more dynamic at going to manufacturers and saying 'give us new hardware'," he added.

Symbian is a consortium of companies such as Nokia, Psion, Ericsson, Matsushita and Motorola, and was set up to create software for devices that will combine the functionality of a personal digital assistant and a mobile phone.

Its operating system is currently used in phones such as the Ericsson R380, and Mui believes it is now important for Symbian to try and boost its profile. "An end user would like to know that a Nokia phone and an Ericsson phone use the same software -- it tells them that it should be simple to upgrade from one to the other, because there is compatibility," Mui explained.

"That's one reason for the success of the Pocket PC," he added.

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