News by Michael Oryl on Tuesday June 24, 2008.
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Earlier today Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Motorola, and NTT DoCoMo announced that they are planning to turn the Symbian smartphone OS and its user interfaces into one royalty-free and, eventually, open source platform. In order to do that, Nokia has announced that it will be purchasing the remaining shares of Symbian that it does not already own from the other Symbian partners and will contribute the Symbian operating system, as well as its S60 user interface, to a new non-profit organization called the Symbian Foundation. Sony Ericsson and Motorola will, in turn, donate their UIQ assets while Japan's NTT DoCoMo will hand over its own MOAP(S) platform to the foundation.
The new Symbian Foundation is being founded by Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Motorola, and NTT DoCoMo along with AT&T, LG, Samsung, STMicroelectronics, Texas Instruments, and Vodafone. Other companies are encouraged to join the foundation, which will be run by Symbian's current management and aided by the founding members.
The founding members said that select components of the platform will be made available as open source from the start, but that the plans are for the platform to be "the most complete" smartphone OS available in open source within two years - an obvious swipe at Google's Android. The group has said that the platform will likely be released under the Eclipse Public License 1.0.
A white paper on the Symbian Foundation website outlines some of the plans and goals for the new group, and includes a 5 point timeline. It shows that 1) after Nokia closes the acquisition of Symbian (expected before the end of the year), all Symbian employees will become Nokia employees and that Nokia will then contribute the OS to the new foundation. 2) the foundation will then be established in the first half of next year. 3) also during the first half of the year, the foundation will launch and will make all of its assets available royalty free to its members. 4) a unified Symbian platform is then to be formed and made available to members during the first half of 2010. 5) lastly, the assets of the platform are to be made available as open source over the course of the next two years using the EPL.
In related news, UIQ announced today that it will be laying off 200 of its 375 employees.