Open source competition ;NOKIA fighting Android
Nokia announced plans today to transform the Symbian mobile phone operating system into an open source platform. Nokia, which already owns roughly half of all shares of Symbian, is in the process of obtaining the other half from various holders for €264 million. The company has partnered with several other major handset makers to launch the new nonprofit Symbian Foundation, which will facilitate the liberation of the platform.
Several core Symbian Foundation members are contributing their own Symbian-based technologies so that the best third-party enhancements can be converged into a single unified stack. This will include Nokia's own S60 platform, the UIQ graphical user interface layer which is jointly owned by Sony Ericsson and Motorola, and NTT DoCoMo's MOAP. These components will be available soon under a royalty-free license to all members of the foundation. Within two years, the platform will be completely open source and will be distributed under the Eclipse Public License (EPL), a moderately permissive license that requires downstream patent grants.
"Establishing the Foundation is one of the biggest contributions to an open community ever made," said Nokia CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo in a statement. "Nokia is a strong supporter of open platforms and technologies as they give the freedom to build, maintain and evolve applications and services across device segments and offer by far the largest ecosystem, enabling rapid innovation. Today's announcement is a major milestone in our devices software strategy."
Symbian is currently the most widely-used smartphone platform, but its popularity and relevance have been declining as handset makers moved towards other platforms, including Windows Mobile and Apple's iPhone, as well as Linux and other open source alternatives that reduce licensing costs and offer more flexibility. The Symbian's business model and development strategy were far out of step with the direction in which the industry was collectively moving. Nokia's efforts to completely open the platform will change that and make Symbian a much stronger contender in the next-generation mobile space.