[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.
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