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End of support for my Symbian applications

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Michal Jerz

Joined: 01 Sep 1999

Posts: 29471

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1099 in 700 posts
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Location: Poland
Phone: Jolla, BB Z10, BB Passport, N950, N900, N8, Nexus 4 (Ubuntu Touch), Lumia 920

PostPosted: Monday, 16.Mar.2015 17:14    Post subject: End of support for my Symbian applications   Reply with quote   

Sadly, at this point I have to cease all support for all my Symbian applications. I was forced to do so by Microsoft, who left developers like me with no other choice.

I did NOT migate my applications from the Ovi store to Opera, because it would make things only worse - even more people would buy the apps and expect continued support in form of updates and fixes, while I would not be able to do anything.


All of my Symbian applications, except for Biorhythms, use features (e.g. GPS location) which on Symbian require so-called "capabilities". If such capabilities are in use, the application needs to be digitally signed (Symbian Signed). Any slightest change (an update, bug fix, or even typo correction) in such an application requires re-signing it. There were two such signing services: Symbian Signed and "Nokia Signed" (within the Ovi store) both owned and controlled by Nokia, both shut down on Dec 31, 2013 by Microsoft. Since then, there has been no other possibility to sign Symbian applications, i.e. no way to modify existing ones or make new ones (those which need to use such capabilities, i.e. to be signed). Additionally, on Dec 31, 2013, Microsoft also blocked the possibility to update any Symbian and MeeGo applications in the Ovi store, so all applications available there couldn't have been updated and modified for nearly 1,5 years.

Migrating those apps to Opera would mean offering those 1,5 years old applications, without any possibility to update or modify them in any way in the future. No chance to fix any possible bugs, no way to update any features (e.g. it is enough that one of the external data sources used by an application changes and breaks the functionality, and there will be no way to update it). I could not do it, because even a slightest change would require re-signing the app, which is no longer possible. Which would probably make lots of users angry and - obviously - blame the developer for such a "cr*ppy broken app".

The only possibility would be to remove from the applications any and all of the functions which use the "capabilities" - in such case the applications would not need to be Symbian signed. In case of most of my applications, it would mean that I'd need to remove their CORE functionality, like e.g. GPS location that most of my applications RELY on and can't really work without as everything they calculate is tightly based on user's location.

Theoretically, instead of an automatic GPS location, to get rid of the Symbian Signed requirement, I could force the user to enter his location coordinates manually (and keep updating them manually as he changes his location), and - similarly - remove/cripple some other features that require Symbian signing, but I'm really not sure if anyone would like it this way. I'll think about it and I look forward to users' feedback in this regard. Sadly, even in such case the applications would need to be released anew, i.e. as new products not available for a free update to existing users - Nokia wasn't providing developers with any customer details and such data won't be passed to Opera, either. Anyone could contact a developer like me and say that he is a legit owner of an app and demand a free update, with no way to verify it. So even if I ever decide to modify (cripple) my apps like this and re-release them, they would need to be purchased anew.

As for Opera, some additional factors which made me decide not to migrate were that Opera does not provide literally ANY protection for the content they sell (they simply make the SIS files available for direct download) and also that the Opera store doesn't handle any taxation - the developer needs to calculate, withhold and pay to the revenue authorities the VAT/sales tax individually for every sale. Any person familiar with the VAT regulations in EU (especially the new ones after Jan 1, 2015) knows well what it means - maybe a large company with full-time accountant can handle this, but surely not a freelance individual developer, who instead of developing apps would need to spend time on calculating VAT tax for every sale. Funnily enough, for all this (i.e. for nothing) the Opera store charges 30% commission.

Long story short, I am really sad and sorry that it has to end at this point, but Microsoft did their best (worst) to kill Symbian development and make it IMPOSSIBLE to further develop any advanced apps for Symbian. For the sake of my own reputation, I can't keep providing applications which I could not update for nearly 1,5 years now, and which I will not be able to ever update (without seriously crippling them, which would be counterproductive) in the future.

I spent a lot of time thinking about any possible alternatives, and I was holding on with this decision until the very last day when the migration was still possible, but I did not find ANY WAY to go on with this.

Those who bought my applications, I hope that you can keep them safe so that you can continue to use them. Sadly, even I do not have signed copies that I could provide to anyone, because Nokia wasn't providing signed copies to developers.

For this miserable situation, we should all be "thankful" to Microsoft who destroyed Symbian and did everything they could to also kill software development for this platform. They succeeded in both.
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