When Nokia acquired the former Symbian Software Limited in 2008 a new independent non-profit organization called the Symbian Foundation was established. One of its main goals was to create the Symbian platform used on more than 330 million mobile phones worldwide as a royalty-free, open source software. Now, less than two full years later and four months ahead of schedule that goal has become a reality with the foundation announcing the completed open source release of the Symbian platform source code.
The Symbian platform has been developed over 10 years and is still the world’s most widely used smartphone platform. In fact, Symbian boasts nearly as much market share as all of its competitors combined - including the iPhone. However, Symbian was seen as being on the wane and the move to open source is designed to arrest its decline and reinvigorate the platform. As well as opening up a huge market for software developers an open-source Symbian also provides an alternative to Android for smartphone manufacturers that don’t want to cosy up to Google. And it goes without saying that existing Symbian smartphone users stand to benefit through the creation of new features and applications.
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Now that any individual or organization can take, use and modify the Symbian code for any purpose, whether it be for a mobile device or something else entirely, it is hoped there will be greater potential for innovation and faster time-to-market for new features and applications. Symbian’s openness also extends to the publication of the platform roadmap and planned features up to and including 2011. And the Symbian Foundation says that now that the platform is open source anyone can now influence the roadmap and contribute to new features.
Lee Williams, Executive Director of the Symbian Foundation, says, “The development community is now empowered to shape the future of the mobile industry, and rapid innovation on a global scale will be the result”.
All 108 packages containing the source code of the Symbian platform can now be downloaded from Symbian’s developer web site. Also available for download are the complete development kits for creating applications (the Symbian Developer Kit) and mobile devices (the Product Development Kit). These kits are compatible with the latest version of the platform, Symbian^3, which is now fully open source and will be “feature complete” during Q1 of this year.