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Representatives of the major mobile-phone manufacturers joined mobile-operating-system vendors and even operators on Tuesday to announce the Symbian Foundation.
The Symbian, Series 60, UIQ and MOAP platforms are to be merged into an open-sourced platform to rival Google's much-feted Android Open Handset Alliance project. The Symbian Foundation list of founding members includes most major handset vendors, in addition to mobile-software platforms, and several network operators.
Nigel Clifford, chief executive of Symbian, was one of the main speakers during the press conference. He stressed that Symbian is the most widely used mobile-software platform on the planet. "The first 100 million devices took eight years to ship," he told the press conference. "The second 100 million took just two years."
Asked why Symbian is going to give away its licences now, after 10 years, he said: "What we are doing is releasing the deluge that will come from an ecosystem here. In the past, phone makers had to think about which user interface and operating-system combination they would use, then there were developers who had been faced with licence arrangements. This is epoch-making and very different from anything that has happened before."
"We want to respond to any barriers to innovation," said Clifford.
Mats Lindoff, chief technology officer of Sony Ericsson, said the Symbian platform will be released under the Eclipse Public License. "Moving the code to open source will engage the broader community to participate in future development and innovations," he said. "If you are an enthusiast [or] developer [the tools and the licensing] will be absolutely free. To develop an application on the platform, you do not need to be a member [of the Symbian Foundation]."
Alain Mutricy, senior vice president of Motorola, said the Symbian Foundation will bring the different Symbian user interfaces and application frameworks together. "The Symbian world will then be unified around one common platform. It will enable everyone to accelerate the deployment of applications. The open Symbian ecosystem, now unified through the foundation, will become richer and stronger, especially when the foundation software becomes open source. The foundation will be open to anyone willing to contribute. It will attract more developers, more suppliers and more OEMs, so carriers will see a greater opportunity."