Nokia to buy rest of Symbian, open source it

By   |  June 24, 2008

Nokia will buy up the remaining bits of Symbian and will release the operating system as open source software, the company said today. The newly-formed Symbian Foundation will also house the S60 user interface (UI) layer as well as Sony Ericsson’s UIQ and DoCoMo’s MOAP(S) UI layers. The Symbian operating system is widely used for mobile devices as a platform to build user interfaces.

“Ten years ago, Symbian was established by far sighted players to offer an advanced open operating system and software skills to the whole mobile industry”, said Nigel Clifford, CEO of Symbian. “Our vision is to become the most widely used software platform on the planet and indeed today Symbian OS leads its market by any measure. Today’s announcement is a bold new step to achieve that vision by embracing a complete and proven platform, offered in an open way, designed to stimulate innovation which is at the heart of everything we do.”

The Symbian Foundation says that “the demand for converged mobile devices is accelerating. By 2010 we expect four billion people to have joined the global mobile conversation. For many of these people, their mobile will be their first Internet experience, not just their first camera, music player or phone.

“Open software is the basic building block for delivering this future,” the foundation said.

The move by Nokia is an interesting one, not the least because of of the potential effect on Google’s Android platform. With a free, and already widely used, mobile handset OS the rationale for Google’s own platform loses a lot of its punch.

Nokia’s decision is also interesting in that it will cost the company $410 million (R3.2 billion) to buy the remaining portions of Symbian, only to then give it away for free.

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