Symbian Goes Open Source

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The Symbian Foundation – who always sound like a charity front for a James Bond villain to our ears – has announced that the code behind the world’s most popular smartphone operating system has finally become open source.

It was said way back in 2008 that such a move was afoot but the Foundation has now confirmed that all the necessary work is complete and it’s all, according to a BBC report, in aid of attracting new developers to work on the system – which has shipped in more than 330 million mobile phones – to help speed up the pace of improvements.

Announcing that the Symbian Foundation is giving away “billions of dollars” with this move, CEO Lee Williams, told the BBC, “This is the largest open source migration effort ever”. He continued, “It will increase rate of evolution and increase the rate of innovation of the platform.”

Ian Fogg, principal analyst at Forrester research, said the move was about Symbian “transitioning from one business model to another” as well as trying to gain “momentum and mindshare” for software that had been overshadowed by the release of Apple’s iPhone and Google Android operating system.

The BBC notes that Symbian development is currently dominated by Nokia, but the foundation hoped to reduce the firm’s input to “no more than 50%” by the middle of 2011, said Williams. “We will see a dramatic shift in terms of who is contributing to the platform,” he added.

Until now, Symbian’s source code was only open to members of the organisation but it can be downloaded from the foundation’s website if you fancy your chances of creating something special. The publicity battle with Android and the iPhone begins now.

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