Dr Jukka interviewed – Nokia and Symbian uncovered

Today I am interviewing Dr Jukka Silvennoinen, Senior Technology expert from Forum Nokia, a Certified Nokia Trainer, and a guest lecturer at a university in Thailand. Dr Jukka is known for his extensive contribution to the Symbian community and, of course to Forum Nokia. Dr Jukka is also admired by many Symbian programmers, and he was one of the founding members of Forum Nokia Champions reward program. It is my great honour to interview him, and I’m sure the world’s cell phone community is eager to read what this talented programmer has to say.

Dr Jukka, I thank you once again for accepting my invitation, and I thank the Nokia Press department as well for this opportunity.


First of all, I would like to ask you some questions close to your heart, of a personal matter:

What was the first phone you ever had?

It was Ericsson GH 198, my first and last non-Nokia device.

When did you buy the above-mentioned phone, and what price did you pay for it?

I bought it in August 1994. It did cost around 7-800 Euros, I would have wanted to buy Nokia 2110 back then, but it was probably some 300 Euros more expensive.

What is the phone you are using at the moment?

I have few devices always in my bag, but the one that I carry 24/7 is N95 classic.

When did you start programming?

First program I wrote was with ZX Spectrum, and the year must have been 1983. I was around 10, and we had computer club sort of thing. They had probably 3-4 computers there and only one was the 48k version, so you had to be quick to get it, otherwise you had to do with the 16k version.

What was the first mobile program that you compiled or helped to develop?

First mobile program I compiled must have been Hello world for Nokia 9210. And the first program I made by myself, was Bangkok City guide for 9210. I started it with zero knowledge, and had to show demo 6 weeks later at Nokia trade show. A bit stressful start, but felt good afterwards. Still remember the Singapore event rather clearly, had 15 stitches in my head from previous weekend’s wakeboarding accident and was feeling a bit sick whole week.

When did you join Nokia, and why, if I may ask?

I joined Forum Nokia in November 2007. Previously I was working at 3rd party developer, and felt that I needed change, but still wanted to stay at the cutting edge of development. Have been really happy with the role with Forum Nokia, it has been excellent learning experience so far, and I’m sure it will not lose the “Fun” aspect any day soon.

What application or technology are you currently working on? If it’s confidential, could you give us a hint?

I don’t concentrate on any particular technology, but do anything that is needed with Symbian OS at any given day. Today I was looking into AIW and what could be done with it, but tomorrow it’s probably something else again.

Do you read mobile phone blogs? If yes, which is your favourite?

I do read some of them sometimes, but nothing particular regularly. All and all, I do read anything that has enough newsworthiness to be mentioned in www.AllAboutSymbian.com news.

What specifications does your ideal dream mobile phone have?

Something that is many years away: Small, device that has paper thin screen; hugely fast short & long range wireless connections.

Having a job at Nokia should mean that you are quite busy, but you managed to get a Masters degree and a PhD. Please share with us how you managed your time, and at what Universities you studied.

It’s all about planning, and then executing the plan accordingly. Of course it requires self-control, self-motivations and lots of hard work. And what should newer be forgotten, is that when you are busy, it’s important to sleep & eat well and most importantly to have fun time to time.

Where do you get the imagination and creativity to develop all the programs you have compiled yourself?

Most of my freeware I had personal need for, and then decided that somebody else might also find them useful, thus made them publicly available.

While attending high school, did you ever imagine that you would become one of the world’s most respected programmers?

No, since it would have been impossible. I’m rather sure that I’m probably only Finnish citizen with PhD. degree, who has never attended a single day at high school (in Finnish: Lukio). I basically took a bit longer route and before starting my university studies I studied at Lappeenranta vocational school for 3 years and graduated as an electrician.

We know that you are also a guest lecturer at a university in Thailand. How do you find the country and the students?

Currently I’m only participating on student final projects as an external expert and most likely will not find time for teaching this year, though I’m doing short 2 day course with AIT in Vietnam this coming May.

Most of my students at AIT have been Asian scholarship students who have been really motivated and excellent learners.

Thailand, of course is the land of smiles, and who wouldn’t like smiles…

I will now move to the second part of the interview, which consists of questions on the mobile phone industry.

Having such an important position at Forum Nokia, you surely must have played with the upcoming jewels, Nokia N96 and Nokia N78. What can you tell us about these phones?

One thing which I really liked with the upcoming models is that there are two very different design patterns, so if you don’t like one, changes are that you will like the other. My personal opinion on the design point of view is that I find the 6220 & 6210 devices rather nice, and probably one of them is going to be my next device I would carry 24/7 with me.

Samsung released their TouchWIZ, HTC has their TouchFLO, and Windows Mobile just got “flashy”. Why do you think Nokia released N96 as a flagship phone, and not Touch UI at this stage?

It’s not my job to wonder “why”, so I can not really answer that question. Anyway, N96 is great device as it is, S60 UIs are easy to handle without touch screen.

What can you tell us about this upcoming platform (Touch UI)? We do know that there will be a touch screen and accelerometer implementations, but what else can we expect?

We can expect that all necessary information will be made public on time, so remember to check out www.forum.nokia.con and www.S60.com time-to-time for more information. Also my favourite news service www.AllAboutsymbian.com most likely will publish reviews and details as soon as they come out.

Recent problems with Symbian Signed have triggered outcries from Symbian phone enthusiasts. Why is the system so restrictive, and what changes should be made so that users can easily and quickly get unsigned applications working on their phones?

As a former developer, in commercial application developer’s point of view, I think most of the changes were good. The system tackles cracked software pretty well now, but of course nothing is perfect.

In general, there should not be need to end-user to sign applications, the signing should be taken care by the developer. Though with current system, freeware developers could have been taken care better, but I’m sure there will be improvements as soon as they are possible.

To Open Source, or to not Open Source, that is the question. Google decided to fight Symbian with its Linux customization, which we know better as Google Android. This is mainly important for developers, but over 40 companies are betting on Google’s new trick. How will Symbian retaliate from the technical point of view? Give more code to the programming community? Crush them with hardware innovations? Create a fund for best programmers, like Apple and Google? What can you tell us?

Symbian OS is very secure OS in many perspectives, and it is also as open as secure mobile OS can be. You can obtain quite many private S60 APIs for many use cases when you have a real business case for them, As well as you can get access to Symbian internal APIs by partnering with Symbian.

That is all, thank you. Many intriguing questions have been answered, and now we can have a positive view of Nokia’s, Symbian’s, and the mobile phone industry’s future. My sincere thanks to Dr Jukka Silvennoinen for his time and the Nokia Press for this opportunity. Within the following weeks you will be able to inform yourself with more interviews and insight of the mobile world. Thanks to all our loyal readers for their support!

~ by Meraj Chhaya on April 5, 2008.

4 Responses to “Dr Jukka interviewed – Nokia and Symbian uncovered”

  1. cool!

  2. Great interview.!

  3. As developer, I miss more questions about platfrom & API. Since nokia jumps to 3rd edition devices, some functionallities have dessapear, and now are part of Symbian Internal API. This have broke compatibility. Also Symbian Signed and web process for obtain capabilities have disagree many people arround the world (only you have to read some forums…).
    Take a moment thinking in this: instead of waste time and money introducing platform security restrictions, large and expensive process to obtain capabilities (if symbian web works), why don’t waste it helping Symbian open source programmers, introducing new powerfull APIs, let programmers access all peripheals without any restriction… like others do. In example POSIX could be a very good improvement.
    For me, mobile phone security is responsability of phone owner, and anticrack protection of developers.
    But, I think is responsability of Symbian/Nokia Software Experts to drive Symbian O.S. at top of Mobile O.S.
    Symbian O.S is in the top?
    Until 3 or 4 years ago could be (at a very large distance from competitors). Today…

    a developer

  4. As developer, I miss some questions about symbian platform & future.
    Since nokia jumps to 3rd edition devices, some functionallities have disappear, and now are part of Symbian Internal API. This have broke compatibility. Also Symbian Signed and web process for obtain capabilities have disagree many people arround the world (only you have to read some forums…).
    Take a moment thinking in this: instead of waste time and money introducing platform security, large and expensive process to obtain capabilities (if symbian web works), why don’t waste it helping Symbian open source programmers, introducing new powerfull APIs, let programmers access all peripheals without any restriction… like others do. In example POSIX could be a very good improvement.
    For me, antivirus protection is responsability of phone owner, and anticrack protection of developers.
    But, I think is responsability of Symbian/Nokia but most of all Nokia Software Experts to drive Symbian O.S. at top of Mobile O.S.
    Until 3 or 4 years ago could be (at a very large distance from competitors). Today…

    a developer
    (sorry for my english)

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