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Video: Symbian is now officially Open Source

So almost five billion dollars of investment is now available on an open source basis. Did you catch the official announcement today? You now download Symbian and get it working on your own hardware, if you’ve got the mind to. In fact, we actually shot some footage of this happening on Friday when Rafe and I visited the Symbian London HQ to do some filming prior to Mobile World Congress. Whilst rushing around the HQ, we came across two chaps sat next to a soldering iron, tons of wires and what looked like a mini motherboard, a speaker and a microphone daisy-chained together. When we enquired, we were told this was the ‘wild ducks project’.

“You what?” I asked. I have started simply turning and looking expectantly at Rafe in these kind of situations. Whilst I’m a geek, I’m not that geeky. Rafe knows the stuff back to front.

“It’s Symbian’s testbed,” Rafe explained, “For getting the operating system to work on other platforms.”

Not just reference platforms, you understand. Literally any other platform. The chaps demonstrated a Beagle Board hooked up to a speaker, microphone and a display actually running Symbian. I kid ye not. We got some footage of that and the video will be up shortly.

So… Symbian is open. What does that mean?

Well it theoretically means you can now install Symbian on your refridgerator. Or any other device you’d care to mention. But of course, the fact the operating system has been fully tried and tested and is actually running on millions of devices — reliably — is going to be a big plus for manufacturers considering what to use for their next mobile device deployments. Open, of course, means that you can change and influence the development of the platform. If you like, you can begin contributing code — or if you’re very serious, even become a package owner and play an integral role in the on-going development.

I’m going to be publishing a lot more on the subject over the next few weeks. It’s an area that’s fascinated me for a long time. I’m particularly interested as to what the Foundation and it’s partners are going to do to keep Symbian relevant. Only today I was demonstrating the Ovi Store on the Nokia N86 and STILL having to answer the ‘do you want to connect to the internet’ and ‘which access point?’ questions. Dumb questions. Really dumb. There’s also significant issues over the platform’s user interface. Is that a Nokia thing or a Symbian thing? Or do they both hold joint responsibility? I’ll be digging deeper soon — and, courtesy of the fact we’ve got more or less unrestricted access to Symbian (more info) over the coming weeks, instead of screaming here on Mobile Industry Review about what I think are the platform’s utter, utter failure points, I’ll be taking that frustration out on directly on key Symbian staffers.

In a positive and constructive way, you understand. If you’ve any particular questions that you’d like answered, be my guest — post them below or email and I’ll add them into the mix. I’m hoping to bring you a series of videos focusing on what I feel are Symbian’s problems — along with their answers on what they’re doing about them (or why my perspective is warped, irrelevant or wrong). We shall see!

In the meantime I’ve got videos galore for you.

First off, I’d like to draw your attention to this announcement video we shot of Lee Williams, the top man at Symbian, discussing the announcement. If you’re wondering what the hell is going on, definitely sit down and watch this. It’s just a few minutes long.

Download M4V Video | Subscribe to Podcast | Embed video

Second, here’s Program Manager Chris Davidson giving us a little bit more background about the open source journey:

Download M4V Video | Subscribe to Podcast | Embed video

Now — did you wonder what all those Symbian Countdown messages were about on Twitter and Facebook last week? Chris explains:

Download M4V Video | Subscribe to Podcast | Embed video

There’s a lot more coming shortly….


  1. I'm genuinely really struggling to see any point to Android now, or rather any decent reason for manufacturers, developers et al to pay attention to it. It seems it's only useful function will be to serve the same sort of purpose as the Liberal Democrat party in the UK – to provide a minor but somewhat useful counter balance to those who will always really have the power.

    And please don't make some lame reference to UI being a reason. Android has a reasonably slick UI on the whole, but Symbian is not much far behind currently, and the coming improvements will easily match or supercede those on Android or iPhone. Meanwhile Symbian have a far more solid, capable and mature platform running on largely considerably superior hardware at largely much cheaper prices (noting that the Nokia 5230 touchscreen S60 device with free Ovi Maps Nav is only £99 on Vodafone without a contract!)

    I think with this, and the release of Ovi Maps Navigation, we're seeing Nokia/Symbian start to completely flatten young and inexperienced upstart Google, and start giving Apple a very serious run for their money (noting that last quarter Nokia's smartphone market share grew 5% while iPhone's share remained static which is very serious for them given the Christmas quarter is where they gain growth, and they traditionally then don't grow until summer and the release of new hardware – meanwhile Nokia et all are steadily advancing).


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