back to article Nokia grabs control of Symbian - then gives it away

Nokia has bought up the bits of Symbian it didn't already own and is chucking the OS into an open-source foundation along with the S60 UI layer, accompanied by Sony Ericsson and DoCoMo, who are throwing in UIQ and MOAP(S) respectively. Symbian has always been the underlying OS allowing companies to develop different graphical …


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  1. Patrick O'Reilly
    Paris Hilton

    KDE Mobile

    With Nokia after buying Trolltech and now them open-sourcing Symbian, could be have a KDE GUI on top of Symbian.

    I am just wondering what licence it will be under?!

    Paris, because she loves giving it away

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All your employees belong us

    From the pdf: "After the closing, all Symbian employees will become Nokia employees"

  3. Nat Pryce

    No way to compete with Android

    "This does remove at a stroke the principle advantage of Google's Android: the code being free."

    Whether Android is free or not, its biggest advantage over Symbian is that it is much easier to code to. The Symbian APIs make Windows 3.1 look simple and elegant.

  4. Mage Silver badge
    Dead Vulture


    Android is primarily a platform for Java applications. It's possibly not at all easy to code for.

    Linux has never been good at stable, consistent, well documented APIs. Try porting PCMCIA code across 2.4x, 2.6.9 and current Kernel?

    Unless Symbian and the UI is cleaned up, OS X may become the most popular to write for. (Though it's not great on APIs either).

    Most (all?) OSes are pretty bad API wise.

  5. Rob


    how is android easier to program for when it isn't even finished yet? I'll be sticking with my iphone, nokias UI has been naff for years, i doubt this'll change anything

  6. Anonymous Coward

    What about the propietary bits?

    Happy to hear that Symbian is going open source but, what about the propietary subsystems that have been licensed over time from third party companies? Open source alternatives will have to be written, otherwise Symbian would lack key components when compared to a Linux kernel.

    I will be curious to see the amount of interest an open sourced Symbian generates in the free software community, the code and approach is radically different from Linux and other open source projects...

  7. Colin Critch

    Lets hope they OpenSource properly

    Lets hope they OpenSource properly and make this Ex Psion engineer happy.

  8. Jaster


    Symbian : Hacked together hyper extended API with many still propietary add ons to get to do anything useful

    iPhone : You will not get the API it is not open .....

    Android : Might be open/ might not .....

    Openmoko : I think? this is actually an open API .....

  9. oliver Stieber
    Gates Horns

    windows >=95 != dos?

    Someone's memory is failing them, Windows up to ME sit on top of dos.

  10. Law
    Paris Hilton


    will this cure the annoying pain in the back side of having to apply to get your application "Symbian Signed"

  11. Anonymous Coward

    I should have kept my Symbian shares

    I had shares in the original Symbian employee share scheme, when I worked there, ages ago. If only I'd stayed, and kept them! Sure, they never actually went public, but ten years on, we finally have a value for what the company's worth - it's worth minus 264 million euros.

  12. Robert E A Harvey
    Thumb Down

    +++ internal error

    What sort of 'open source' is only open to people who pay?

  13. thesniper


    Much easier to code to, much more difficult for people to use given there's no handsets...

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Its all about the US market

    Symbian need a bigger share of the US market. This will enable this. Look at the number of US companies that are involved.

  15. andy k
    Thumb Up


    Its about time. Google phone must be scaring them!!

  16. Doug Deeds
    Thumb Down

    Nokia handsets history?

    Let me get this straight, any other phone company can just pay to join and get access to all of the OS and UI. Certainly this will let any of the Chinese handset manufacturers immediately crank out handsets on par with Nokia's lineup. Software has been their only distinguishing feature for years.

    Evidently Nokia thinks they can make all of their future income from services. I think they could easily lose their entire market share for handsets in under 5 years.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    >What sort of 'open source' is only open to people who pay?

    Atlassian JIRA. We paid -a lot- for it, and we have the (Java) source.

    Worth every penny.

  18. EmperorFromage
    Jobs Halo

    Riding two horses ?

    There is a large overlap in the Limo Foundation and Symbian foundation members roster. Does this mean that Limo is sinking ship? Or has collective panic set in from fear of the Jesus phone, and the others players are all grasping at straws.. any straws they can get hold of ?

  19. Anonymous Coward

    Nokia - buy me

    You can buy me for Euro 200million and then give me away for free. I won't hold it against you, honest.

    Jackets the nice warm Scandanavian proof one.

  20. Paul


    "Nokia had S60, originally intended for button interfaces, Sony Ericsson had UIQ, meant for pen control, and DoCoMo had MOAP(S), intended for Japan"

    What do they use in Japan if it's not buttons or pens? IR sensors to detect ninja style movements?

    Wha! [chop] Chaa![kick] Hui![52 hit combo finishing move]

    What do you mean I'm being arrested for threatening behaviour? I was just textin' the wife!

    Mines the one with the Katana strapped to the back...

  21. Chris O'Shea
    Thumb Up

    @Robert Harvey

    "What sort of 'open source' is only open to people who pay?"

    As I understand things, the Symbian Foundation is the board that decides what goes into a release, which features etc. to incorporate into the delivery etc. and you pay your $1,500 to become part of that decision making group (and to agree to cross-licence your patents).

    It will (it says) take two years to get the code ready for full open-source (I assume there are IP and licensing issues to sort out, plus whatever they are doing to merge S60, UIQ and MOAP(S)), in the meantime it's starting with Foundation members ... it's all on the public web page.

    "The Symbian Foundation platform will be available to members under a royalty-free license from this non-profit foundation. The Symbian Foundation will provide, manage and unify the platform for its members. Also, it will commit to moving the platform to open source during the next two years, with the intent to use the Eclipse Public License. This will make the platform code available to all for free, bringing additional innovation to the platform and engaging even a broader community in future developments."

  22. herman Silver badge

    Tax break time

    Cool, now they can claim a bazillion Euro charitable donation tax break on an obsolete project...

  23. Hans

    SonyEricsson ui ????!!! who would want that ????

    I understand all the fuss about symbian, the nokia ui is not even that bad, but please, do us a favor, keep away from that #$@% se ui - I cannot think of a single "feature" to keep in that ui - I had a se business phone for 2 years! And they can't even make a difference with the "Walkman" brand name ... it must be their phones!

    Even a buggy prototype (!) Sagem worked better for me (personal phone)! Sagem are not really that much better than Nokia at ui design ... on par. They suck with bt, though (not all services available, so file transfer does not work without their sw, l00sers) Sagem needs to have Mac OS X support, I know there are hacks/software out there that allow you to sync sagems with mac os x, but they are "far" from perfect.

    Nokia need software developers! Their sync software is sooo bad, notorious.

    Palm, hm, Palm - unfocused CEO in inaction! l00sers, they had it all and lost ... a crime against capitalism, even if we tried hard we could not make it as bad. I bet they are gonna sign up for symbian ... just to l00se another 5 years R&D.

    Imagine, these guyz have decent win, bsd, linux, macos support out of the box since the 90's.

    Moto, you guyz have sealed your f8 as well - you had a chance, what was the name of the phone with iTunz support? It should have been a first step ... but lacked balls - no balls, no glory!

    How much fun is it, to surf the web with windows mobile??? not much, I can tell you ... I want a jesus phone, like the cfo - boss, please get me one, please ...

    These mobile guyz have been selling us overpriced shite phones for years, with even the most basic expectations left out, with the #$%&^ telcos removing even more features ... come on jesus phone, kick their butt! How hard can it be to make a phone that is useful as a phone and with which you can internet with fun? With standard contacts, vCard or LDIF anyone?

    Who cares about tv on a 2.3" screen anyway, why on earth do they wanna push that down our throats? WE DO NOT WANT TV ON A 2.3" screen! NO TV on my mobile, please.

    g00gle phone, cool, where's the hw? Sounds like GNU Hurd ... in 10 years time still not a single phone ...

    OpenMoko? Where's the phone?

    Samsung? stick to the other stuff you do ... you cannot be good at everything.

    Coat, please, mine's the one with the communicator badge.

  24. Devtruth Editor
    Paris Hilton

    It is free!

    The Foundation page suggests that hobby developers CAN get the code for free, i.e. you don't have to pay to get it, but you may not be able to sell stuff without paying a license fee. This is yet another grey area, and it amazes me that Symbian are pushing this as an advantage and a 'new dawn' when their staff are lining up outside the dole office... what a pack of lies.

  25. sleepy

    Nokia - sleepwalking into the history books

    Look what happens when you simply combine email with cellphone - Blackberry storms the market - until that business comms niche is filled in the near future. Multiply that by at least ten - that's what you can expect from iPhone over the next 5 years - mobile internet with GPS is worth far more to any literate human than mobile voice. The worldwide rollout of iPhone this year signals the end of Nokia's chance to catch up.

  26. Chris O'Shea

    A couple of corrections ...

    @ sleepy

    "mobile internet with GPS is worth far more to any literate human than mobile voice. The worldwide rollout of iPhone this year signals the end of Nokia's chance to catch up."

    So why haven't Nokia made loads of money given that mobile internet with GPS has been in Nokia phones for a couple of years, and you still can't buy an iPhone with them yet? (Yes, I know, only a few weeks away now). And where's the decent camera and video capture in the iPhone? MMS messaging? Using the iPhone as a laptop cellular modem? ... And better surfing with GPS has been in Symbian Japanese phones for a while ... maybe Nokia is buying Symbian (and merging in MOAP(S)) to get that done better in *their* phones? And SonyEricsson/UIQ has been doing touch screen mobiles for at least the last five years (not multi-touch, but touch screen nonetheless) etc. so pulling all that together gives Nokia (and other phone manufacturers) a chance to leap ahead again.

    Oh and "catch up", er ... iPhone 2.0 is Apple's opportunity to catchup with 3G, GPS etc. which Nokia had and Apple didn't ... (oh and the iPhone UI is gorgeous and until Nokia "gets it" then yes, they are in danger ... but integrating the UI with the OS should make things a *lot* easier) ... and finally "catch up" ... how many iPhones are out there? How many Nokia phones? How many Symbian phones? Let's assume that the iPhone sells another ten million phones this year ... now compare the figures again ... iPhone is still *way* behind in sales ... and for companies, it is sales that matter (or rather, profit and share price) and not who has the prettiest or easiest to use phone.

    @ Devtruth Editor

    "Symbian are pushing this as an advantage and a 'new dawn' when their staff are lining up outside the dole office... what a pack of lies."

    Indeed, a pack of lies. No one at Symbian is lining up outside a dole office. Can't say the same about UIQ of course ... but then UIQ belongs to SonyEricsson and Motorola (Symbian sold their share in it a while ago).

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