Taking Symbian Open Source: This Could Take a While

Posted by: Olga Kharif on June 24, 2008

The big story today: Nokia’s decision to transform Symbian, an operating system for smartphones, into an open-source project. News headlines scream that the new, open-source Symbian will eat Google’s Android mobile OS effort alive. Well, I say: Not so fast.

As this story explains, transforming Symbian into an open-source project could take a long, long time. Nokia’s latest investment into Symbian has to gain regulatory approval. And taking proprietary code and open-sourcing it could take months — until late 2009, perhaps. That gives Google plenty of time to get Android off the ground, even if the project is delayed by a few months, according to recent reports.

That said, Symbian — once it’s open sourced — will pose serious competition to both Google and Microsoft. The new Symbian will allow handset manufacturers to enjoy massive savings on handset costs, and that’s likely to earn the software that all cell-phone makers are already intimately familiar with lots of additional business.

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Reader Comments

Steve Wildstrom

June 24, 2008 09:12 PM

The linked Inquirer article says: "The INQ believes that IBM did something similar a while back. Maybe INQ readers may recall this." Oddly enough, the project in question is actually mentioned in the same article: The IBM product that the company made public source was Eclipse, a Java development environment. The Symbian Foundation apparently plans to use the Eclipse Public License.

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BusinessWeek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, Douglas MacMillan, and Spencer Ante dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. One of the first mainstream media tech blogs, Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.

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