Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Nokia Acquires the Rest of Symbian; Embraces Open Source

Conspicuous by its absence in the list of Google's Android partners has been Nokia, the biggest name in mobile phones. And while Monday the Wall Street Journal reported that Google is finding it more difficult to "change the cell phone industry" than it might have originally thought, on Tuesday Nokia delivered what could be another blow: it purchased the remaining 52% of Symbian, the company behind the software on its handsets, as well as making the software open source.

In terms of the Symbian purchase, according to a press release, Nokia has received favorable responses from all the major stakeholders, except Samsung, but expects Samsung to agree as well. It already has 91% of the remaining shares accounted for.

Meanwhile, the company announced the Symbian Foundation, which is expected to start operating during the first half of 2009. Membership of the foundation will be open to all, though not free: there's an annual membership fee of $1,500.

In the press release announcing the foundation, Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, CEO of Nokia said:
"Establishing the Foundation is one of the biggest contributions to an open community ever made. Nokia is a strong supporter of open platforms and technologies as they give the freedom to build, maintain and evolve applications and services across device segments and offer by far the largest ecosystem, enabling rapid innovation. Today's announcement is a major milestone in our devices software strategy."
Sony Ericsson and Motorola have agreed to contribute technology from UIQ and DOCOMO has also agreed to contribute its MOAP(S) assets to the foundation.

So, is this really a strike at Android? Well, the Foundation does say on their home page that the idea is
to create an unparalleled open software platform for converged mobile devices, enabling the whole mobile ecosystem to accelerate innovation.
Hmmm. Sounds vaguely Android-ish. At the same time however, bringing the software in-house makes the device more iPhone-ish, with Nokia controlling both sides of the device - though you'd never see Apple go open source.

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