Symbian Foundation Poised To Release OS Beta
The latest version of the Symbian operating system is expected to be on commercially available smartphones early next year.
The Symbian Foundation will release a beta version of the open source Symbian within the next few weeks, according to executive David Wood.
Wood, whose official title is "catalyst and futurist" for the Symbian Foundation, said the official version of the open source operating system should be available for full release in about six months, and it should be on retail smartphones in early 2010. The OS will be called Symbian^2, and it combines elements of previous versions of Symbian, Nokia's S60, MOAP, and UIQ.
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This beta release will be the first real fruit from the Symbian Foundation, which was put into motion when Nokia purchased Symbian outright and spun it off into a non-profit organization about a year ago. The goal of the foundation is to create an open source mobile OS that can be used by any handset manufacturer. The foundation's members include AT&T, Samsung, LG Electronics, Vodafone, and other influential industry players.
While Symbian is still the most widely used smartphone operating system in the world, Nokia did not want it to lose momentum as Apple's iPhone and Google's Android emerged on the scene. Those rivals arguably have easier software development kits to develop for, and virtual application stores that made distributing programs easier. By making Symbian open source and royalty-free, Nokia is trying to expand the footprint of the mobile OS.
The foundation has also laid out an aggressive timetable for software updates, as Wood expects an updated OS nearly every six months with improved functionalities. While it is technically possible to run Symbian^2 on some existing devices, the decision will be left up to the device manufacturer and carriers, Wood said.
Nokia's decision to create the Symbian Foundation and to open up the OS should have major ramifications throughout the smartphone market. InformationWeek evaluated the impact of this move, and the report can be downloaded here (registration required).