The phrase “10 10 10” first entered my life at a Symbian Leadership Team offsite, held in Tylney Hall in Hampshire, in early January 2007. We were looking for a memorable new target for Symbian.
A few months earlier, in November 2006, cumulative sales of Symbian-powered phones had passed the milestone of 100 million units, and quarterly sales were continuing to grow steadily. It was therefore a reasonable (but still bold) extrapolation for Nigel Clifford, Symbian’s CEO, to predict:
The first 100 million took 8 years [from Symbian’s founding, in June 1998], the next 100 million will take under 80 weeks
That forecast was shared with all Symbian employees later in the month, as we gathered in London’s Old Billingsgate Hall for the annual Kick Off event. Nigel’s kick off speech also outlined the broader vision adopted by the Leadership Team at the offsite:
By 2010 we want to be shipping 10 million Symbian devices per month
If we do that we will be in 1 in 10 mobile phones shipping across the planet
So … 10 10 10
Fast forward nearly four years to the 10th of October, 2010 – to 10/10/10. As I write these words at around 10 minutes past 10 o’clock, how did that vision turn out?
According to Canalys figures reported by the BBC, just over 27 million Symbian-powered devices were sold during Q2 2010:
Worldwide smartphone market
|OS||Q2 2010 shipments||% share||Q2 2009 shipments||% share||Growth|
Dividing by three, that makes just over 9 million units per month in Q2, which is marginally short of this part of the target.
But more significantly, Symbian failed by some way to have the mindshare, in 2010, that the 2007 Leadership Team aspired to. As the BBC report goes on to say:
Although Symbian is consistently the most popular smart phone operating system, it is often overshadowed by Apple’s iPhone and Google Android operating system.
I’m a big fan of audacious goals – sometimes called BHAGs. The vision that Symbian would become the most widely used and most widely liked software platform on the planet, motivated me and many of my colleagues to prodigious amounts of hard work over many years.
In retrospect, were these BHAGs misguided? It’s too early to tell, but I don’t think so. Did we make mistakes along the way? Absolutely. Should Symbian employees, nevertheless, take great pride in what Symbian has accomplished? Definitely. Has the final chapter been written on smartphones? No way!
But as for myself, my vision has evolved. I’m no longer a “Symbian smartphone enthusiast”. Instead, I’m putting my energies into being a “smartphone technology enthusiast“.
I don’t yet have a new BHAG in mind that’s as snappy as either “10 10 10” or “become the most widely used and most widely liked software platform on the planet”, but I’m working on it.
The closest I’ve reached so far is “smartphone technology everywhere“, but that needs a lot of tightening.
Footnote: As far as I can remember, the grainy photo below is another remnant of the Symbian Leadership Team Jan 2007 Tylney Hall offsite. (The helmets and harnesses were part of a death-defying highwire team-building exercise. We all lived to tell the tale.)
(From left to right: Standing: Andy Brannan, Charles Davies, Nigel Clifford, David Wood, Kent Eriksson, Kathryn Hodnett, Thomas Chambers, Jorgen Behrens; Squatting: Richard Lowther, Stephen Williams.)