[LINK] mobiles will be mostly open source

stephen at melbpc.org.au stephen at melbpc.org.au
Wed Jun 25 23:54:22 AEST 2008

Nokia in bid to free Symbian

June 25, 2008 - 11:30AM  http://www.theage.com.au/technology/

Nokia is buying the consortium that makes the software for its mobile 
phones, Symbian, and making it available for free to other manufacturers.

Nokia said Tuesday that it is offering to buy the 52 percent of Britain's 
Symbian that it doesn't already own for about $US410 million. 

Symbian's software is the most widely used on high-end phones.

Nokia will then establish a foundation with handset makers Sony Ericsson 
and Motorola and Japanese carrier NTT DoCoMo to make the software 
available royalty-free. They will combine their three different versions 
of the Symbian software for advanced, data-enabled phones into one open 

AT&T, LG Electronics, Samsung Electronics, STMicroelectronics, Texas 
Instruments and Vodafone Group will also join the foundation, Nokia said.

Nokia said that all previous owners of Symbian, except Samsung, have 
committed themselves to accept the offer and that it expects Samsung to 
join them shortly.

While more than 90 percent of PCs run Windows, the market for cell-phone 
software is much more fragmented, with a dozen competing platforms. That 
means software developers have a much harder time creating applications, 
and raises costs for handset manufacturers and carriers that have to deal 
with many different systems.

In the race to set create a dominant standard for phones, the price of the 
software has become one differentiator. Symbian and Microsoft have been 
charging royalties for their software, but a leading challenger, the LiMo 
Foundation, will make software available for free. Google plans to give 
away its handset software, Android.

The foundation model addresses another concern from carriers and handset 
manufacturers, which don't want a single company to control the software 
like Microsoft does on desktops.

In giving away the software, Nokia is counting on the benefits of 
increased adoption to offset its upfront costs. Technology companies often 
donate the fruits of their research to nonprofit organisations with this 
in mind. Last year, Nokia gave away a low-power wireless technology called 
Wibree to the Bluetooth consortium.

Redeye analyst Greger Johansson in Stockholm, Sweden, said Nokia's move 
will make Symbian a tougher competitor to the other operating systems, 
considering that Symbian already has 60 percent of the smart-phone market.

Symbian software has yet to be popular in the US, where the smart-phone 
market has been dominated by Research in Motion, Palm and manufacturers 
using Windows Mobile. Apple, with its iPhone, is an up-and-comer.

Kevin Burden, director of mobile devices at US-based ABI Research, said 
the move also should produce substantial savings for Nokia, which has been 
paying Symbian more than $US250 million a year in licensing fees.

Nokia said it expects the acquisition to be completed during the fourth 
quarter of 2008 and is subject to regulatory approval.

Cheers people
Stephen Loosley
Victoria Australia

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