Nokia Finalizes Symbian Acquisition

The move is an important step in making Symbian a royalty-free open source mobile operating system.
While the unveiling of the N97 touch-screen smartphone garnered most of the attention at Nokia World this week, Nokia also announced it had completed the acquisition of Symbian.

Nokia was already a 48% stakeholder in Symbian, but in June the cell phone manufacturer said it would purchase the remaining shares for $410 million and move the market-leading Symbian mobile operating system into the open source environment under a royalty-free Eclipse Public License.

The closing of the acquisition is a crucial step in this process, and the move toward open source will be shepherded by the newly formed Symbian Foundation. The foundation includes more than 90 members, including industry heavyweights like AT&T, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, and Sony Ericsson.

Symbian is the most widely used operating system for smartphones with about 60% of the market, but it's facing increased competition from Research In Motion's BlackBerry platform, Microsoft's Windows Mobile, and the surging iPhone. Google has recently entered the fray with its open source Android operating system as well.

With mobile applications playing an increasingly important role in the adoption rate of handsets, the move toward open source could make Symbian a more attractive platform for developers. Symbian will combine elements of Symbian OS with Nokia's S60, DoCoMo's Mobile Oriented Applications Platform, and UIQ to create the new mobile platform. The first handsets with the operating system are expected to ship in 2010, according to Nokia.

"Symbian will be open and mature, and if you look at the size, industry support, ecosystem, and developer activity ... it's second to none," Nokia CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo told InformationWeek.

But Symbian may have already lost a major player, as Motorola recently said it would be streamlining its portfolio and only use Android and Windows Mobile for its midlevel and high-end smartphones.

Editor's Choice
Brandon Taylor, Digital Editorial Program Manager
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor
John Abel, Technical Director, Google Cloud
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
Christopher Gilchrist, Principal Analyst, Forrester
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek