Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Symbian Mobile OS To Go Open Source Nokia To Hold Developer's Day On Thursday To Open Source Code To All

While it doesn't have the glamour of an iPad or Nexus One reveal, the
following bit of news probably won't get much excitement in the tech
press, despite the huge impact it will have on the mobile phone space.
Symbian, Nokia's mobile phone OS, will have it's source code revealed on
Thursday, making it fully open source. While Symbian has been given less
than favorable reviews lately (myself included), especially when
compared to Andorid or the iPhone OS, this is a huge move for the
world's most popular mobile OS.
Nokia sells more mobile phone handsets than anybody in the world
(despite Apple's incorrect slide at the iPad reveal) and Symbian is the
world's most popular phone operating system, which is why this is such
big news. Symbian was originally developed by the independent Symbian
corporation in 1998, with the OS being in its 9th version currently.
Nokia took a quick liking to Symbian, and quickly began including the OS
on most of its phones. In the early 2000's, they began purchasing shares
in the company, and in 2009, they purchased Symbian outright. Facing
strong Android competition, Nokia developed a Android-like Linux-based
mobile OS called Maemo that shipped on their Nokia N900 last year.
Despite the new Maemo, sources from within Nokia said they will stick
with Symbian. Of course, we know now that they were planning to make
Symbian open-source.
Of course, Google's Android mobile OS is becoming quickly popular,
especially in mindshare with the tech blog community and big
manufacturers HTC and Motorola. Lee Williams, the head of the non-profit
Symbian Foundation that Nokia set up to manage the mobile OS said to
Wired magazine, About a third of the Android code base is open and
nothing more. And what is open is a collection of middleware. Everything
else is closed or proprietary. Open source is also about open
governance. It s about letting someone other than one control point
guide the feature set and the asset base.
Why is this a big deal? Symbian is the most popular mobile operating
system in the world (The Windows of the mobile phone space, if you
will). With the code now being open source, this will give developers
more flexibility when writing for Symbian phones. While the average
consumer doesn't know or care what their phone is running, it will be
interesting to see if tech-savy users will prefer Symbain phones over
Android ones because of the open-source support.
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