Symbian to ease app building for China Mobile

The Symbian Foundation and China's biggest mobile operator will provide a streamlined way for developers to submit apps to China Mobile's store and will promote the TD-SCDMA standard
Written by Tom Espiner, Contributor

The Symbian Foundation and China Mobile have joined forces to promote the development of Symbian-based software for the Chinese operator's app store.

The partners will also promote the uptake of TD-SCDMA, the 3G standard developed in China as an alternative to WCDMA and other wireless interface technology. The collaboration agreement was announced on Wednesday.

"The Symbian platform holds a strong position in China's mobile market, and we welcome the opportunity to build our relationship with the Symbian Foundation," said Lu Xiang Dong, a vice president at China Mobile, in a statement.

"By entering this partnership with the foundation we hope to have greater involvement in the development of new and exciting mobile applications, thereby enabling developers to satisfy consumers' 3G requirements via our Mobile Market store and enhancing the value chain for the TD-SCDMA industry."

China Mobile, which has approximately 497 million subscribers, launched its Mobile Market app store in July. The alliance with the Symbian Foundation, the industry organisation behind the Symbian open-source mobile operating system, aims to increase the number of Symbian developers contributing to the app store and broaden the range of software in it.

The first part of the programme will involve the foundation streamlining its Symbian Signed accreditation process for mobile applications, the Symbian Foundation's founding director David Wood said.

"Symbian Signed will be simplified to make it easier for developers, by clarifying exactly what the tests will involve," Wood said. "Some of the tests were a bit subjective, in that [the same] apps could be submitted and pass or fail, which was frustrating for developers. We're moving away from style questions to address core functionality."

The Symbian Signed process will be added to China Mobile's submission process for Mobile Market, meaning that developers will be able to have their software tested, signed and approved in one go.

The signing process will also be more closely linked to Symbian's Horizon programme, which assists developers in building applications for the mobile OS and helps them submit the software to app stores.

"The integration of Symbian Signed into [China Mobile's] developer programme and Mobile Market services will enable smoother access for Symbian developers to the largest mobile user base in the world," Lee Williams, executive director of the Symbian Foundation, said in a statement.

In addition, the foundation plans to launch a Chinese-language Symbian site, reflecting its user base. In August, 60 percent of developers submitting applications to be accredited by Symbian were Chinese, according to Wood.

The other main part of the agreement calls for the Symbian Foundation to help promote TD-SCDMA by encouraging companies to build TD-SCDMA-based handsets. China Mobile has the licence to use the 3G technology in China.

Wood said Symbian already supports TD-SCDMA technology, which in some aspects is similar to WCDMA.

The two other major Chinese operators, China Unicom and China Telecom, are licensed to use the WCDMA and CDMA-2000 standards respectively. The Symbian Foundation is in talks with those operators about possible collaborations around technology based on the other 3G standards, Wood said. "We are talking to the other two operators, and I hope there will be some announcements in due course," he said.

Western operators are increasingly collaborating with Chinese firms. Telefonica, the international telecoms company behind O2 in the UK, announced a $1bn share swap with China Unicom on Monday.

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