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Nokia Takes Control of Symbian Software

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Nokia Takes Control of Symbian Software
November 08, 2010
By Ed Silverstein, TMCnet Contributor


Nokia (News - Alert) Oyj will take full control of the Symbian operating system, retaking management of an asset which it had given to the open source community to run only a few years ago, according to a report from Reuters (News - Alert).

Reuters reported on Monday that Nokia will take care of Symbian platform development from April 2011 onwards, while the Symbian Foundation will take care of licensing the software.

The Register reports that Nokia is taking over the governance of Symbian, leaving the non-profit foundation as a vestigial organization in name only. Around 75 of 100 jobs will be lost, as the foundation becomes an entity devoted to licensing IP, according to The Register (News - Alert).

In a press release the foundation's CEO, Tim Holbrow, brought in after the sudden departure of Lee Williams last month, acknowledged a "seismic change in the mobile market but also more generally in the economy, which has led to a change in focus for some of our funding board members,” according to The Register.

"The result of this is that the current governance structure for the Symbian platform – the foundation – is no longer appropriate."

Nokia talked about a new "open model" for the source code – but The Register says it remains to be seen exactly what this will mean. The decision was approved at a board meeting in Amsterdam Monday, where the 11th annual Symbian developer event was taking place.

The Register says the foundation, may not live on much past April 2011.

Nokia bought out other shareholders in Symbian in 2008 and opened the software for any manufacturers to use for free on an open-source basis.

But it failed to win wide adoption and this year Samsung Electronics and Sony Ericsson abandoned it in favor of Google's (News - Alert) Android, according to Reuters.

Nokia, a Finnish handset maker, is the key contributor to the development of the software and has created some 95 percent of sales volumes of Symbian phones.

Reuters says that Symbian continues to lead the mobile market with a 37 percent share in the third quarter. The closest rival, Google's Android (News - Alert), had 17 percent of the market last quarter, just ahead of Apple, according to research firm Canalys.

Ed Silverstein is a TMCnet contributor. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Erin Harrison

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