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June 25, 2008 / Marco

Symbian Foundation Anatomized: Was It Predictable?

Admittedly, today has been one of the most eventful days I’ve had ever since I started this blog. Let’s recap what we heard today.

  1. Nokia wants to buy out all the shares in Symbian LTD that it does not already own. This means Nokia will purchase 52% of Symbian LTD shares with an estimated €264 million sum.
  2. Nokia is taking this step to help with the establishment of a new alliance called Symbian Foundation.
  3. Influential companies and operators like Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Motorola and NTT DOCOMO have accepted the foundation’s membership.
  4. Membership of the foundation will be open to all organizations with an annual membership fee of US $1,500.
  5. The new foundation will be born in early 2009 after Nokia’s acquisition of Symbian LTD is complete.
  6. Symbian, S60, UIQ and MOAP Mobile operating systems will be combined into an open-sourced platform within two years.
  7. The first cell phone handsets using this platform will most likely appear on the market in 2010.

Is such an alliance necessary?

The Symbian platform has been the most successful mobile operating system ever manufactured. In 2007, Symbian-powered smartphones represented almost 7% of all handset sales, and mobile devices based on Symbian currently account for 60% of the converged mobile device segment. Much of this eye-catching success can be attributed to Nokia and its world-renowned handsets. However, it is evident that the use of Symbian variants with handsets manufactured by other companies cannot be called a true achievement. On the one hand, other mobile operating systems such as Apple iPhone and MS Windows Mobile are threatening the dominance of Symbian. On the other, the open-source Android platform supported by Open Handset Alliance
– a venture initiated by Google – will power many handsets starting at the end of 2008. Now take into account the fact that companies like Motorola and Sony Ericsson have been experiencing noticeable slumps with Nokia’s ever-increasing lead. That is, while the popularity of the S60 platform – as a Symbian offspring – has been on the rise, its sibling, UIQ, hasn’t been enjoying the same degree of fortune among handset manufacturers and application developers. Consequently, the establishment of Symbian Foundation is a natural step toward being engaged in the fight which has been put up by mobile OS developers. And why not do it with an aura of respect for open-source application development and distribution?

What comes next?

No one knows for sure how this new foundation would conduct business. Even the name of this so-called consolidated platform isn’t known. One point is obvious: all handset manufacturers which are involved in the establishment of Symbian Foundation will continue using their dedicated mobile platforms until the common operating system emerges in 2010. More interestingly, many companies are members of both Open Handset Alliance and Symbian Foundation, so it remains to be seen how this binary membership affects their policies in the future. Motorola, Sony Ericsson, Broadcom, LG, Texas Instruments and so on are committed to both initiatives, and this might affect the Symbian/Android clash. Whatever the consequences, I’m dead sure consumers will benefit from the expanding number of mobile operating systems as time passes by, and Symbian will most probably remain a major player in the field. Any thoughts or comments?

Related Info: Nokia To Purchase Rest of Symbian LTD

Symbian Platfrom Consolidatd Under Symbian Foundation

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