Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Motorola and NTT DoCoMo announced that they will merge their Symbian operating systems (S60, UIQ, and MOAP, respectively) into one open source uber-Symbian powerhouse. If the new Symbian Foundation were just these four companies, Android and the OHA would have a lot to worry about, but the news is worse for Google. AT&T, LG Electronics, Samsung Electronics, STMicroelectronics, Texas Instruments and Vodafone are all joining in the Symbian Foundation party. The new-found power this consortium will wield should not be taken lightly.
Nokia, Sony Ericsson and Motorola together make up for the bulk of worldwide handset sales. Add LG and Samsung to the mix, and you have all the top five players in one boat. Right now, HTC is one of the only handset makers teaming up with Google in the OHA. Sure, the OHA has Sprint and T-Mobile USA on board in the U.S., but neither of them has the market power that AT&T or Vodafone does. (Whether or not Vodafone will influence Verizon Wireless -- of which it owns 40% -- to join the Symbian Foundation is unknown.)
Together, these companies can donate massive amounts of resources and create what could turn out to be the most powerful mobile operating system ever. Nokia's Symbian variant, S60, is already the market leader. UIQ and MOAP also have their own strengths. If the Symbian Foundation can take the best assets of each OS, the possibilities are endless. What makes it all the more impressive, is that this OS-to-be will be completely open source, and royalty free for Foundation members.
In part of the massive press release issued this morning, Kris Rinne, Senior Vice President of Architecture and Planning at AT&T, said "Mobile phones have turned into sophisticated multimedia computers and smart phones continue to grow in popularity. The Symbian Foundation will reduce fragmentation in the industry and holds the promise of incorporating leading technology and the most mature software into a unified platform for the entire industry. This will create an environment that will encourage and enable developers to build compelling applications that will positively affect our customers' lives and support AT&T in offering its differentiated services to consumers."
Rinne makes an astute observation. Developers will play an important role in the success of this new platform. Symbian already has many thousands of developers toiling away to make new and interest applications. The Symbian Foundation, along with its developer community, has the potential to crush the competition unless Google and its OHA partners can really hit a home run with Android.