Symbian Foundation Gets More Members

With a major Japanese carrier on board, the number of companies supporting Symbian's free, open source goal has climbed to 59.
As competition in the smartphone wars heats up, the Symbian Foundation continues to bolster its ranks.

The foundation announced Wednesday that Japan's third-largest wireless carrier, SoftBank, Renesas Technology, and five other companies are on board with the organization's goal of providing a free, open source mobile operating system. The other new members are Borqs, Comarch, HiQ, Kanrikougaku Kenkyusho, and L&T Infotech, and this brings the total number of foundation members to 59.

"We believe its activities will establish a leading open platform for mobile," said Masanobu Yoshida, senior VP of SoftBank, in a statement. "Participating in the work of the Symbian Foundation and adopting the platform will enable us to concentrate resources to deliver more appealing devices more quickly to a worldwide market. We are convinced that this mobile platform will accelerate innovation in the mobile industry and increase customer satisfaction."

In June, Nokia bought the remaining shares it didn't own in Symbian and created the Symbian Foundation. The foundation's goal was to create an open source operating system based on S60, DoCoMo MOAP, and UIQ platforms. Some of the founding members include AT&T, Motorola, Nokia, and Texas Instruments.

The foundation is hoping that the open source nature will spur innovation and lead to innovative applications that will increase the overall market share of Symbian devices. The first handsets with the new Symbian OS are on track to hit the market in 2010, according to Nokia.

The move is not without risk though, as Symbian executives have said the company will be giving up about $300 million a year in licensing fees. But the smartphone market is becoming increasingly competitive as Apple's iPhone 3G has proven to be a tremendous hit with consumers, and Google recently entered the space with its open source Android operating system. Symbian is also trying to hold off established offerings from Microsoft's Windows Mobile, as well as Research In Motion's BlackBerry line.

The foundation has already potentially been dealt a blow as founding member Motorola recently announced it would streamline its operations and only focus on the P2K, Android, and Windows Mobile operating systems for its handsets.