Symbian rolls out S^3 product development tools

The smartphone software maker has released a PDK for the open-sourced Symbian^3 platform, amid growing competition and flagging support from Nokia
Written by Matthew Broersma, Contributor

The Symbian Foundation has released a product development kit for the Symbian^3 smartphone operating system, the first version of the OS to be fully open-sourced.

PDK 3.0.0 is the first to be based on S^3 since the mobile operating system reached its functionally complete stage on 16 June, Symbian's senior release manager Mark Skrebels said in a blog post on Wednesday. The kit is intended for developers building devices based on the OS, creating code for the platform or working on products that plug into the OS.

Skrebels said S^3 marks a major advance for the open-source operating system.

"This is the first time [functionally complete status] has been achieved for a fully open-sourced Symbian release and represents the transition of this latest version of the platform from largely feature submission and stabilisation into the 'hardening phase'," said Skrebels. "This is a key message to the community to engage with S^3."

The product development kit provides a full build of S^3, along with its source code, so it provides access to the S^3 feature set and should allow developers to get involved in bringing out S^3 devices, Symbian said. The PDK is available from Symbian's website.

The kit also includes the Mobile Runtime for Java Applications (JRT), an open-source tool contributed to Symbian by Nokia, the handset maker revealed this week. In a blog post on Thursday, Jyrki Aarnos and Aleksi Uotila, Nokia's package owner and product manager for JRT, said the contribution opens up the S^3 platform to Java applications.

"This means that developers can write Java applications for Symbian^3 devices," Aarnos and Uotila wrote. "More importantly, the JRT is now open source, so the community can modify and add to the JRT implementation under the terms of the Symbian Foundation's EPL licence."

In S^3, the operating system has been given a new user interface, personalised homescreens, a revamped multimedia experience including support for HDMI and next-generation graphics, better data networking, a new theme called Fresh and other features. The first S^3-based handsets are expected to arrive this autumn, but face strong competition from Apple's iPhone, Google's Android and RIM's BlackBerry devices, among others.

S^3 faces an uphill battle to win market share in an increasingly competitive smartphone market, Nokia admitted earlier this month, saying it is now a "challenger" in the smartphone space.

Symbian currently accounts for 58 percent of the smartphone market across the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy, compared to 18 percent for the iPhone, 13 percent for Microsoft smartphones, eight percent for BlackBerry and three percent for Android, according to figures released last month by ComScore.

However, other platforms are growing more quickly than Symbian, ComScore said. Between April 2009 and April 2010, Symbian's share across those countries grew by 18 percent, compared to 161 percent for the iPhone, 87 percent for the BlackBerry and 2,429 percent for Android.

In June, Nokia said the upcoming N8 will be the only one of its N-series handsets to use S^3, with the other N-series devices to be based on the Linux-based MeeGo platform.

In addition, Anssi Vanjoki, Nokia's executive vice president of mobile solutions, said in a 2 July blog post that there was "a very strong possibility" that S^3's successor, S^4, could be used on a future N-series device.

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