Nokia getting serious with Open Source Symbian

What a day. First Nokia bought Plazes (Congrats!) and now they offer to buy the remaining 52% of Symbian and have launched the Symbian Foundation, which will drive the open sourcing of Symbian over the next 2 years. Of course the Symbian Foundation has wide adoption, same as the Open Handset Alliance around Android, but we might want to dig a bit deeper to see if this is a lost cause by Nokia as Google will simply win with Android, or not.

First to start of with one thing. Nokia sells as many phones in a few days as Apple has sold iPhones in total. So there is a bit of a market power there. Of course, Apple might be able to scale down, and Android might be nice, but there is power behind the Symbian Foundation, real power.

Another question is who is now building mobile phones. Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Samsung, Lg, Ericsson, Motorola … all members of Symbian and many of them missing from Google’s Alliance. One also has to say that these companies have real relations to carriers and real experience to get phones through testing with the FCC and others.

Also, Google lists China Mobile as part of the Open Handset Alliance, but they seem to have problems getting chinese working on Android, and Chinese does work on Symbian obviously, and with Open Sourcing the platform, there are no longer any real licensing fees and China Mobile might have an easier access route with Symbian to get their own Smartphones.

So yes, Nokia needs to build up their developer relations work to get some serious buzz around new apps for Symbian, but this is something that can be done because it is a really good base. I still want an iPhone but I will keep my N95 and I will likely get a Nokia phone again in the future. It’s just that I want back to T-Mobile anyway (reception at Base sucks some times) and the iPhone is nice indeed. It has the buzz factor at the moment. Android is too far away. And possibly Nokia will have some really compelling items out at the end of the year. And hey, just imagine them adding Plazes to a few of their phones. Give it a month and there will be more Plazes installations on phones than iPhones out there. So long Loopt. Nice to have met you.

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2 thoughts on “Nokia getting serious with Open Source Symbian

  1. Tao June 24, 2008 at 09:39 Reply

    What’s the difference here though? All these mobile phone manufacturers are already invested in Symbian. What good would open-sourcing it do for them? Who would be interested in adding to that codebase, that wasn’t able or willing to before? Right now it isn’t even easily possible to upgrade your phone’s version of Symbian! To would rule out most of the hacks and tinkerers already. They cannot easily mod their phones with a tricked-out version of the OS. Nor would the carriers let them, I think.Other companies then? Other mobile-phone manufacturers that aren’t already using Symbian? HTC perhaps? That wouldn’t really change the game all that much…All in all it seems more of a marketing-move (to generate buzz as you say), then anything else. But you’ve always understood the mobile market way better then me :-)

  2. Oliver June 24, 2008 at 11:37 Reply

    First of all, there stops being a cost attached to using symbian, which makes it more attractive. With several code basis, like UIQ and S60 being made available, you have more options for free. Before nobody would add because Symbian would make money, not they are just advancing the cause. The newest S60 devices actually also can update Symbian over the Air.And yes, it is to a large part a marketing move, which is needed though. Above that, obviously, it just removes a barrier of using Symbian to do stuff.

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