16 October 2009

Personal announcement: Life beyond Symbian

Filed under: Psion, Symbian, Symbian Foundation — David Wood @ 4:19 pm

I have a personal announcement to make: I’m leaving Symbian.

I’ve greatly enjoyed my work of the last 18 months: helping with the preparations and announcement of the Symbian Foundation, and then serving on its Leadership Team as Catalyst and Futurist.

I’m pleased by how much how has been accomplished in a short space of time.  The transition to full open source is well and truly on the way.  The extended Symbian community will shortly be gathering to exchange news and views of progress and opportunities at this year’s SEE09 event in Earls Court, London.  It will be a very busy event, full of insight and announcements, with (no doubt) important new ideas being hatched and reviewed.

On a personal note, I’m proud of the results of my own work on the Symbian blog, and in building and extending Symbian engagement in China, culminating in the recent press release marking a shared commitment by China Mobile and Symbian.  I’m also honoured to have been at the core of a dynamic and energetic leadership team, providing advice and support behind the scenes.

In many ways, my time in the Symbian Foundation has been a natural extension of a 20 year career with what we now call Symbian platform software (and its 16-bit predecessor): 10 years with PDA manufacturer Psion followed by 10 years on the Leadership Team of Symbian Ltd, prior to the launch of the Symbian Foundation.  In summary, I’ve spent 21 hectic years envisioning, architecting, implementing, supporting, and avidly using smart mobile devices.  It’s been a fantastic experience.

However, there’s more to life than smart mobile devices.  For a number of years, I’ve been nursing a growing desire to explore alternative career options and future scenarios. The milestone of my 50th birthday a few months back has helped to intensify this desire.

Anyone who has dipped into my personal blog or followed my tweets will have noticed my deep interest in topics such as: the future of energy, accelerated climate change, accelerated artificial intelligence, looming demographic changes and the longevity dividend, life extension and the future of medicine, nanotechnology, smart robotics, abundance vs. scarcity, and the forthcoming dramatic societal and personal impacts of all of these transformations.  In short, I am fascinated and concerned about the breakthrough future of technology, as well as by the breakthrough future of smartphones.

It’s time for me to spend a few months investigating if I can beneficially deploy my personal skills in advocacy, analysis, coordination, envisioning, facilitation, and troubleshooting (that is, my skills as a “catalyst and futurist”) in the context of some of these other “future of technology” topics.

I’m keeping an open mind to the outcome of my investigation.  I do believe that I need to step back from employment with the Symbian Foundation in order to give that investigation a proper chance to succeed.  I need to open up time for wide-ranging discussions with numerous interesting individuals and companies, both inside and outside the smartphone industry.  I look forward to finding a new way to balance my passionate support for Symbian and smartphones with my concern for the future of technology.

Over the next few days, I’ll be handing over my current Symbian Foundation responsibilities to colleagues and partners.  I’ll become less active on Symbian blogs, forums, and emails.  For those who wish to bid me “bon voyage”, I’ll be happy to chat over a drink at SEE09 – by which time I will have ceased to be an employee with the Symbian Foundation, and will simply be an enthusiastic supporter and well-wisher.

After I leave Symbian, I’ll still be speaking at conferences from time to time – but no longer as a representative of Symbian.  The good news is that Symbian now possesses a strong range of talented spokespeople who will do a fine job of continuing the open dialog with the wider community.

Many thanks are due to my Symbian Foundation colleagues, especially Executive Director Lee Williams and HR Director Steve Warner, for making this transition as smooth as possible.  It’s been a great privilege to work with this extended team!

To reach me in the future, you can use my new email address, davidw AT deltawisdom DOT com.  My mobile phone number will remain the same as before.


  1. DW, I know you’ll be missed by those of us outside of Symbian for the many years of insight and enthusiasm you have radiated.
    On a personal note, 14 years ago I was a graduate with an enthusiasm for computing but no formal training or experience. Under your wing (my first manager) you set me on the road to where I am today (a VP Engineering no less) with your drive, friendliness and philosophy. For me at least that was one of your great achievements, and I thank you wholeheartedly for it!

    All the best!

    Comment by Kevin Dixon — 16 October 2009 @ 4:40 pm

  2. A sad day for Symbian, from the outside it looks like a big chunk of the heart and soul of Symbian will go with you … so much has changed in the last year.

    In the seven years that I worked with Symbian, training and coaching, I was always so impressed by how you always knew what training I was delivering and asked how it was going. It’s so unusual to get such support for training and development work from a senior executive and I always appreciated it. Whenever I discussed possible mentors for those I was training or coaching, your name came up the most. I know many people saw you as an inspiration and a role model and maybe you will now hear exactly how much you were appreciated following this announcement.

    Of course the exciting bit of all this is what you will be released to achieve in the future, I wish you all the very best in the future and look forward to following your adventure!

    Thanks again for your support,

    Best wishes,

    Margaret Burnside (trainer and coach with Thales Training and Consultancy)

    Comment by Margaret Burnside — 16 October 2009 @ 4:43 pm

  3. Wishing you all the best for the future David, Symbian will never be the same.


    Comment by William Carnegie — 16 October 2009 @ 4:50 pm

  4. You probably don’t even remember me but you made me fell very welcome when i started for Psion which then turned into Symbian. To me you are all Of Symbian that I still recognise! Good luck in everything you do and I am sure they will miss your dulcet tones. Well done on Cambridge as well I remember a little 9 year old.


    Comment by Karen Martins — 16 October 2009 @ 5:19 pm

  5. Wishing you all the best.


    Comment by Ramesh — 16 October 2009 @ 5:29 pm

  6. I know that feeling all too well and have felt that more and more that I might do the same from my respective field in time. Many blessings to you on your next endeavor, and continue to press for change that hits the ground running.

    Comment by arjwright — 16 October 2009 @ 7:25 pm

  7. To my mind you’ve always been the most important element of the engine driving Symbian and quite frankly irreplaceable. I’m sure you’ll make as great a contribution to your (not so) new interests as you have over the past 20 years for Symbian, and I look forward to hearing and reading about your exploits.
    With all best wishes,

    Comment by Ian W — 16 October 2009 @ 10:10 pm

  8. Good luck for the future,I agree Symbian will never be the same without you. It was a great experience working with you.I have learnt many things that will always stay in my mind.
    Good Luck and thank you

    Comment by AfT-K — 17 October 2009 @ 12:20 am

  9. David, Definately a surprising note to read on my summary from LinkedIn connections. As a Futurist, the job is never done so there’s never a right time to leave. That’s the way I felt about Psion. I still remember talking up the importance and potential of mobile computing…and amazingly some of it has come true! 🙂 All the best, Stephen Pang (Psion Press Office 1993-99)

    Comment by Stephen Pang — 17 October 2009 @ 2:00 am

  10. DW

    I wish you all the very best on your next move, you made me feel so welcome as a fresh faced graduate in the joys of Frampton Street back in 1998. Your drive and enthusiasm and legendry ability to know exactly what each and everyone of us was working and what our issues were was a huge support (plus spending time on a Friday afternoon at peoples desks was something not many EVPs did or do).

    As others have said, so much has changed in last 18 months, but its refreshing people move on too.

    I have an unused 5MX Pro somewhere in England you can have, I know those replacements are getting harder to find and you are the ultimate user!

    Good luck


    Comment by Ade Steward — 17 October 2009 @ 9:23 am

  11. Mark and I both remember you giving the induction presentation when we joined. In fact you’re the first person I met at a Psion group interview back in 1997. Your genuine enthusiasm and belief in what the team could achieve shone through then, and now, and your support for books, education and research in all its forms has been an unwavering constant.

    We are sad to hear that you’re leaving Symbian – it won’t be the same without you there “keeping us honest”.

    We will be following your future career with great interest. Best of luck!

    Comment by Jo Stichbury & Mark Jacobs — 17 October 2009 @ 11:40 am

  12. As a Catalyst and Futurist, it makes sense to move on from Symbian Foundation. You contributed so much to the Symbian story and product over the past two decades, I could only imagine the great contributions you’ll make after looking in from the outside.

    You’ve played many key roles in the development of smartphones (not just Symbian smartphones) but for me personally, your talent for explaining the technology, its challenges and its benefits during times of invention, discovery, competition and milestones – in a way that anyone could understand and appreciate – not only made my work easier as head of communications for Symbian for eight years but encouraged millions of people around the world to want to see what it was all about. The mass market is grateful to you.

    You are foreword thinking, positive, warm, kind, honest, patient and always respectful to others; to have all these qualities is scarce and as an company executive, is even scarcer. Keep it up, keep the pressure on the technology and see you soon. Anatolie

    Comment by Anatolie Papas — 17 October 2009 @ 2:42 pm

  13. Hi David,

    Sad to see one of the True Believer’s go from Symbian (especially the person who most has “been” Symbian from the get-go).

    Good luck with your future interests though. Have a look at the 21st Century School (http://www.21school.ox.ac.uk/) at Oxford University. They’re doing some very interesting things there in a variety of the areas you mention.

    David Durant

    Comment by David Durant — 17 October 2009 @ 4:02 pm

  14. Like every one I was too surprised to read this. But then I remembered a quote from someone – “Nothing is permanent” – well justified!

    Wish you Good Luck for your future interests!

    Best wishes,

    Comment by Pankaj Nathani — 18 October 2009 @ 7:11 am

  15. It has been an enjoyable, fruitful and tremendous learning in the past 6 months working directly with you. Your enthusiasm and deep confidence in this part of the world has truly inspired us to keep moving forward towards our goals despite all the near to impossible challenges lying ahead. I’m very sure that China will still be a crucial part of your life beyond Symbian and that your expertise, insights and foresights will be required and treasured by the whole community here. We await your return for more fun and work together again, and to accomplish even more, all the best…David

    Comment by David Chun — 18 October 2009 @ 2:14 pm

  16. […] analytical skills to somewhat more global concerns than mobile phones. You’ll have to read his blog to get the full […]

    Pingback by A Surprise Move « Martin Webb's Multimedia Blog — 18 October 2009 @ 2:33 pm

  17. Will follow your blogs – and wishing you the most wonderful and Qt 😉 experiences you dream of in re-inventing yourself. All the best David!!!

    Comment by Karsten Homann — 18 October 2009 @ 8:49 pm

  18. You made the right decision. I remember, when I got my first Psion 3 around 1994. It was the best PDA at that time. Battery powered but worked weeks in my daily use. We linked it to new Nokia 2110 mobile phone and it allowed mobile e-mail and other services. Nokia 9000 Communicator was announced 1996 and that was like Psion 3 and mobile phone merged into one device. But 9000 Communicator used old GEOS OS and needed new better OS. That is how Nokia found Epoc and that is how Symbian started. Nokia started using Symbian OS. Also many other companies started to use Symbian OS.

    I have been working for Nokia 36 years and I made same decision than you. From 1st of October 2009 it is time to explore the new ventures and dig into new things for which I did not have time during my busy Nokia life.

    Lauri Hirvonen
    Founder of Forum Nokia, dotMobi company and now CEO of new company.

    Comment by Lauri Hirvonen — 19 October 2009 @ 8:39 am

  19. All the best as you venture into the world of artificial intelligence, energy, and nanotechnology. I enjoyed working with you – even if it was only for 7 out of the 20 years – learned a lot. Thanks!

    Comment by Morten Grauballe — 19 October 2009 @ 7:28 pm

  20. DW2,

    I’ll never forget the first time I met you. I tracked you down to a conference as I wanted an opinion as to whether or not a business idea I had was viable and I loved your devices, had read about your work and thought this guy will be the ultimate test of my theories. If I’m completely honest until I met you nobody I’d met had even the first idea of what I was talking about!

    The possibility of getting your attention seemed small when you came off the stage and were immediately surrounded by people who obviously had the same idea. I was amazed to see you take your time to listen to each and everyone of them before giving them some super smart advice and your contact details. By the time you got to me I thought this guy must have somewhere really important to go to but you didn’t even rush me and I began describing how I thought these smartphones you were creating will revolutionize healthcare. I then asked you whether you thought there could be a feasible business behind these ideas. Thankfully you said yes and I’m still pursuing my dream and enjoying every single minute of it.

    Since then I have taken every opportunity to hear your inspirational lectures… after which you are unfailingly to be found generously offering your advice and support. You’re an inspiration to so many and a national icon… your imagination is infectious and I can’t wait to see the next chapter…

    My very best wishes,


    Comment by David Doherty — 19 October 2009 @ 11:40 pm

  21. DW2,

    You will certainly be dearly missed at Symbian. Good luck with your new endeavours, which the community will certainly follow with eager interest!


    Comment by Vinay Kapoor — 20 October 2009 @ 8:03 am

  22. David,

    I want to wish you the best of luck in the future. As a former Psionite and Symbianite I remember also (like so many others) with great fondness the numerous great discussions those 10 years ago as we were building and scaling the business. You stuck it out for a very long time and there is most certainly a life beyond Symbian. Enjoy and make the most out of it.

    Talk soon!

    Comment by Steen Thygesen — 20 October 2009 @ 11:59 am

  23. David,

    All the best on your new adventures beyond Symbian.

    Hope to see you around!



    Comment by Eric CHan — 20 October 2009 @ 4:20 pm

  24. Best of luck for the future David – make sure you stay in touch!

    Comment by Jeremy Copp — 20 October 2009 @ 5:02 pm

  25. […] his time at Symbian has now come to an end. A statement on his personal blog reads as follows: …Anyone who has dipped into my personal blog or […]

    Pingback by David Wood resigns from Symbian Foundation -> TamsS60 — 20 October 2009 @ 7:24 pm

  26. Best of luck with your post-Symbian work David! If you feel like pursuing some of your topics in an academic context please let me know and I can hopefully point you to the right people. Richard

    Comment by Richard T — 21 October 2009 @ 8:45 am

  27. DW-

    Thanks for all your contributions to the mobile industry! It is nice to see the impact you had on people over the years reflected here. I look forward to hearing you speak on different topics and watching your influence unfold in other industries as you explore your interests. Celebrate the successes of the past and the promise of the future. Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.


    Comment by Larry Berkin — 21 October 2009 @ 10:22 am

  28. Hello David,

    Good luck in your new ventures , post Symbian. Hope to catch up some time soon!



    Comment by Alan Ferdman — 21 October 2009 @ 11:38 am

  29. Hi DW2,

    I remember the very first introductory mathematics lecture I attended as an
    undergraduate. In it, the professor remarked that every 40 odd years something
    big or famous gets solved in the field; he gestured maybe something like
    Fermat’s Last Theorem would be solved. Slightly later than planned, that one
    came in. So on your list of interest topics, I am similarly enthused; I just
    feel like there’s something around the corner because the time is ripe.

    They say the cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity —
    good on you for following yours.

    I recently saw a documentary on Robert Noyce, founder and innovator in the
    semiconductor industry. I think it would be a fair comparison to place yourself
    on a similar footing in respect of the mobile phone industry. We’ll do our best
    to carry the torch, but you’ll be missed. However, we still expect the occasional
    cameo appearance from you, from time to time!

    All the best,

    Comment by Faisal Memon — 21 October 2009 @ 4:55 pm

  30. David,

    The very best of luck for the future (and a somewhat belated happy birthday).


    Comment by Andrew Margolis — 23 October 2009 @ 12:33 pm

  31. David,

    Just read the news that you are leaving Symbian. I’m sure you’ll see success in your new role. All the best for the future.


    Comment by Mike King — 26 October 2009 @ 11:55 am

  32. Normally I like to reply quickly to comments to my blog postings.

    This time, unusually, I’ve been lost for words.

    I’m truly struck by the very generous (and over-generous) comments made by so many colleagues and friends – both here, and on Facebook and Twitter, and via more private communications channels.

    I’ll do my best to catch up with some individual replies over the next few days.

    I’m heartened – and humbled – by the extent of encouragement I’ve received. Many thanks!

    // David W.

    Comment by David Wood — 27 October 2009 @ 2:44 am

    • David,

      I heard only yesterday that you had left Symbian. I am sorry to hear you go as you have been a key figure and motivator for a great group of people and a fantastic product. On the other hand, I am excited for you and your new ventures…I wish you all the best.


      Comment by Ken — 29 October 2009 @ 2:31 am

  33. Hi David,
    I’m one of the operators of TheDigest, a mailing list for Psion and other palmtop users and I found your blog at http://www.psionwelt.de.
    We have a thread in TheDigest, which needs deap knowledge of Symbian OS. May be you can help us.
    Please reply to me by PM to [ removed ]
    Thank you in advance
    Best Regards

    Comment by Rolf Vonau — 31 May 2010 @ 6:47 am

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: