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Symbian (wikipedia), the market leading operating system for mobile phones, celebrated its ten year anniversary today — with a bang. Nokia, the world’s largest cellphone company, plans to acquire the 52 per cent of Symbian it doesn’t already own and make the platform open source.

Our vision is to become the most widely used software platform on the planet,” Nigel Clifford, CEO of Symbian, said in a statement. The deal is valued about $411 million, reports RCR News. Blogrunner has full coverage.

In giving away the software, Nokia is counting on the benefits of increased adoption, notes USA Today. Nokia’s worldwide market share has dropped from around 50 percent of the handset market to around 45 percent recently.

Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Motorola and NTT DOCOMO, together with AT&T, LG Electronics, Samsung, STMicroelectronics, Texas Instruments and Vodafone plan to establish the Symbian Foundation to extend the appeal of the unified software platform. Motorola and Sony Ericsson will contribute UIQ assets, while NTT DoCoMo (which uses Symbian in a number of its phones) will be donating its MOAP OS as well.

After it buys the rest of Symbian, Nokia says it will contribute the Symbian and S60 software to the Symbian Foundation. Nokia, which has been on an acquisition tear recently, clearly aims to challenge Android.

Symbian’s open foundation will build on the Symbian software platform, with more than 200 million phones, across 235 models, already shipped by multiple vendors and tens of thousands of third-party applications already available for Symbian OS-based devices. By contrast, Apple’s iPhone hopes to ship 10 million units by the end of the year.

According to TechCrunch, market share statistics may vary, but the ranking is currently approximately:

  • Symbian (60%)
  • Windows (15%)
  • RIM (10%)
  • iPhone (7%)

Symbian is by far the dominant smartphone operating system in the world.

But the North American smartphone market is a different kettle of fish. It is dominated by the iPhone, Blackberry and Windows Mobile.

GigaOm handicaps the players (above) while market researcher Canalys breaks down the Smartphone market (below).

C/Net reports, James Faucette, an analyst with Pacific Crest Securities said, “By being a 100 percent owner, Nokia can push the Symbian Foundation initiative forward without the potential of dissenting stakeholders.” According to Mark Sue, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets, “Nokia is trying to accelerate its product development by acquiring Symbian and bringing development in-house.”

Symbian’s open foundation aims to compete with Google’s Open Handset Alliance, LiMo (Linux Mobile Foundation), Open Moko and other collaborative efforts, that aim to standardize smartphone operating systems. Wikipedia has a list of handhelds with Wi-Fi connectivity.

The Symbian foundation is expected to start operating during the first half of 2009. Membership of the foundation will be open to all organizations, for a low annual membership fee of US $1,500.

There are 3.3 billion mobile phone subscribers on the planetmore than half the population of Earth. Global service revenues for 2007 were $700 billion, with the data service revenues more than $120 billion. China signed its 500 millionth subscription, and both India (in Feb 08) and the US crossed the 250 million subscription mark this year.

Related Android articles and Nokia articles on Dailywireless include; Smartphone OS: The Linux Challenge, The Next Big Thing: Small, Nokia Advertising Alliance, 3G iPhone Day, Nokia & France Telecom Partner, One Laptop: 2.0, Verizon Joins Android Rival, Collaboration on Mobile Apps, 4G: War to End Wars and Webvision: Mobile Apps, How & Why.

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