Here's the email that went out to existing theme publishers this morning:
Dear Theme Publishers,
With Nokia's family of Asha and Lumia devices gaining momentum, we have reviewed all developer partner programs at Nokia. Our aim is to ensure sufficient investment and support is being provided to help developers and publishers leverage the growing business opportunity in the Series 40 and Windows Phone platforms. To ensure the highest quality Theme content, we are implementing a Publisher Partner Program from 1st July 2013. Candidates for inclusion in this program are chosen by Nokia and have already been notified. After 1st July only these select partners can publish new Theme content to Nokia Store.
We regret any inconvenience these changes to our content programs may cause and we welcome developers and publishers to work with Nokia to take advantage of the growing opportunity represented by the Series 40 and Windows Phone platforms. Best regards,
Nokia Developer Experience
Is the move to a Publisher Partner Program a sign of a bigger ramp down?
It is the result of an ongoing review or our current programs designed to ensure the best personalization content reaches partners. We have not announced any further changes to our programs.
What will happen to existing content?
All existing content will continue to be available for download and developers and publishers will continue to receive download and revenue reports as well as payouts for
Who qualifies for Publisher Partner Program for Themes?
Access to this program will be selective and based on the discretion of Nokia. The goal of program is to ensure wide selection of good quality personalization content for consumers.
If I am not selected to the Publisher Partner Program, can I update my Themes content in Nokia Publish after 1st July 2013?
No. You cannot make any changes to your current content submission. You are welcome to unpublish your content from Nokia Store.
It's perhaps not surprising that small parts of the Symbian ecosystem would start to be pulled down, though do note that there are thousands of themes already in the Store and that all of these (including commercial items) will remain fully available after July 1st. Plus there may be some new themes from big companies that Nokia has selected (though I wouldn't hold my breath here...)
It's also worth noting, of course, that just as in the early days of Symbian, there's far more to add-on software than just the on-device store, it's trivial to download and sideload themes from .sis files sourced from the wider Internet. For newly created free themes after July 1st, users will simply have to look at existing theme download sites. Commercial themes are more complicated, of course, since the Nokia Store made it easy for users to 'pay' - maybe we'll start to see 'donation-ware' themes later this year.
For what it's worth, here's my favourite free Symbian theme, Belly Jean (modelled on the E6!), and (as a good example of what I just said) it sits outside the Nokia Store: