Several major mobile phone and electronics manufacturers are banding together to create a single open mobile software platform standard based on the Symbian operating system.
The Symbian Foundation was officially formed Tuesday in the wake of Nokia's purchase of Symbian, the company that develops the Symbian operating system. The goal of the foundation, the companies say, will be to unite all of the current platforms based on the Symbian operating system, including the S60, UIQ and MOAP(S) mobile platforms. Several major companies, including Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Motorola, DOCMOMO, AT&T, LG Electronics, Samsung, STMicroelectronics and Texas Instruments, have all committed to help promote the software platform.
The foundation says that it will begin operating sometime in the first half of 2009, depending on when Nokia finalizes its acquisition of Symbian. The foundation plans to release the full platform to all of its members under a royalty-free license. From there, the foundation says it will make "selected components" of the platform available as open source, and will "work to establish the most complete mobile software offering available in open source."
The formation of the Symbian Foundation comes at a time when more open source platforms, such as Google's Android and the LiMo Foundation's Linux-based mobile platform, are giving Symbian a run for its money as the dominant open source mobile operating system. Adam Leach, a principal analyst for telecom and software consulting firm Ovum, says that the Symbian Foundation was formed at least partially in response to a more competitive open source platform environment.
"Linux has become a real threat to Symbian's business with a number of Linux initiatives gaining serious momentum," he says. "The success of LiMo is of particular importance here because the model that Nokia and others have adopted for the Symbian Foundation is essentially the same as that of LiMo. This is an endorsement of LiMo's approach and demonstrates that Nokia believes that this is part of its success."
Since its company's inception in 1998, the Symbian operating system has been used for more than 100 million smartphones shipped worldwide. In recent years, Symbian has tried to push smartphone technology to the mass market by giving its operating system a faster start-up time and a quicker responsiveness to mobile applications.