Mobile rivals back unified Symbian platform

Symbian logo

Apple and Google's smartphone platforms look set to face stiff competition from Nokia, as the mobile phone giant today announced an ambitious attempt to increase use of its favoured Symbian platform.

Today the Finnish phone maker bought the remaining 52 per cent stake in Symbian, giving it 100 per cent ownership of the mobile device software platform.

At the same time, the company has united rival phone makers to support its plans to make Symbian open source and royalty free. Industry leaders including Sony Ericsson, Motorola and NTT DoCoMo have agreed to support the launch of the Symbian Foundation.

In doing so, all three, along with Nokia, will contribute their various flavours of Symbian S60, UIQ and MOAP(S) towards a single open software platform for converged mobile devices. It is hoped that this will enable the whole mobile ecosystem to accelerate innovation in the same way that web browser development benefitted from the injection of Netscape's Navigator source code into the Mozilla Foundation.

At a press conference held in London today, Nokia's executive vice-president Dr Kai istm said that the Symbian Foundation was based on a "shared vision".

"Today is about developing a shared vision. The Symbian Foundation aims to revolutionise the mobile industryand unify technological assets. The Symbian platform will offer great efficiency."

istm confirmed that all employees of Symbian would become Nokia employees, putting to rest any fears of staff restructuring.

Nigel Clifford, chief executive of Symbian said the deal with Nokia and the formation of the Symbian Foundation is a natural evolution for the company.

"We're looking forward to what this evolution will mean. The steps being taken today are a natural bold step for Symbian."

The Symbian Foundation platform will be available to members under a royalty-free license and is expected to be released during the first half of 2009. It will also commit to moving the platform to open source during the next two years, with the intent to use the Eclipse Public License.