Symbian Goes Open Source – Courtesy of Nokia

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Nokia has today announced that they will be acquiring the remaining 52% of Symbian they don’t own and will be releasing the complete Symbian platform under the Eclipse open source license. Nokia have also announced the creation of the Symbian Foundation, which is an alliance of mobile vendors and application providers that any company can join. The foundation will oversee the process of releasing Symbian under a new open source license, and then retain the long-term control and trademarks of the operating system.

Symbian is a mobile operating system that runs primarily on the ARM architecture used in Nokia, Sony Erricsson and Samsung devices. Symbian originated at Psion, and found its way onto Nokia handsets starting with the original Communicator. Symbian found a good home at Nokia, and its growth as a mobile platform grew as Nokia dominated the mobile handset market from 2000 onwards.

Current mobile handset market share statistics depend very largly on who you ask and which classification is used, but the ranking is currently approximately:

  • Symbian (60%)
  • Windows (15%)
  • RIM (10%)
  • iPhone (7%)

The Sybmian market share can be further broken down as not all versions are compatible with others. Regardless of the source of data, Symbian is by far the dominant smartphone operating system.

With such dominant market share, the question to ask is why Nokia would pour more money into Symbian to only then open source the platform. As the Symbian foundation says, the purpose of Symbian is to: “bring to life a shared vision and to create the most proven, open and complete mobile software platform – available for free”. Sound familiar?

  • Raul Riera

    I have both techcrunch and techcrunchIT added to my RSS, is there a need to repeat the stories?

  • Nik Cubrilovic

    raul: we are working out the details on how it will work so that it only pops up in a single feed

  • Shimon Amit

    Can you please create a favicon for this nice blog so my favorites list doesn’t look so bland?

  • Nik Cubrilovic

    Shimon: will do that also :)

  • Andy

    Yes, I assume it has something to do with Google Android. Or indeed securing it’s future against perhaps current stronger new players like the iPhone. And a full stack of software and web (social and mapping) that add up to a very powerful combination for Nokia, through other recent purchases. Seems a very clear confident strategy.

    And from my own slightly vested interest, as Nokia/Symbian has signalled that Microsoft Silverlight could come to their platform soon, I’m glad that they are still very committed to their own OS.

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  • Darren

    I find it hard to believe the iphone has 7% of the market already? is this US figures or world wide? also what are the sources for those figures? are they just smart phone figures because I would imagine there are a lot of nokia handsets out there that are not smart phones as such and have this os.


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  • Matthew Bennett

    This looks like a great strategic move by Nokia, especially if they already have 60% market share. Whoever owns the biggest platform will get the biggest bite at global handset access and income and, more importantly, mobile advertising revenues. Here is a very recent New Yorker interview with Eric Schmidt on Google, including very interesting comments about what Google thinks about where the mobile internet is going:

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  • ironyjk's me2DAY

    iron의 생각…

    Symbian Goes Open Source – Courtesy of Nokia…

  • Prashant Agarwal

    Regarding the market share figures above, I assume you meant market share for smart phones, not all phones. Symbian isn’t on 60% of the world’s handsets, or even 60% of all of Nokia’s handsets for that matter.

  • Peter

    Nokia’s global market share is about 39%. Interesting move.

  • ben hookway

    The market share numbers are completely inaccurate. These reflect Smartphone market share, not mobile market share. There are 1.2bn phones sold every year and only 200-300m can claim to be smartphones so this paints a completely false picture.

    iPhone has approx 0.7% market share right now.
    Nokia has approx 40% but the vast bulk of those are Series40 handsets, not using symbian.

    All that said, the point of this exercise is to crush Android

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  • Max M

    Its too bad the license they used is incompatible with the GPL 3. Linux and other GPL’d software still can’t incorporate their code.
    ” This is a free software license. Unfortunately, it has a choice of law clause which makes it incompatible with the GNU GPL.”

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  • Nik Cubrilovic

    Good point Max – I started reading the Eclipse license because I don’t know much about it, and I figured there must be some reason why they chose it over the simpler licenses and those used more often (gpl, bsd, mozilla)

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