Last week I visited Symbian's labs here in London. The assembled hacks were shown some very interesting stuff, such as what could be done with a quad core mobile chipset (they can get it to work - precisely why is another matter). There was also some cool stuff with mobile-based audio EQ, which always pleases me.
We also got shown some of the fruits of Symbian's work with Scalado on the graphics front. The engineer demonstrated very quick loading of and zooming into a 21-megapixel picture, which was very impressive but raised two unanswered questions. Firstly, given the size of a mobile phone's camera lens and sensor, why on earth would anyone want to stick 21MP in there?
And, more importantly, what precisely is to happen with this valuable work once Symbian goes open source? Given that doing so will involve stripping out all the third-party, proprietary stuff that can't go open source, why is Symbian still bothering with such partnerships? I've spoken since with a mobile developer who reckons the only way they could make, for instance, the Scalado thing work would be to throw enough money at Scalado to get them to allow their tech to be opened up.
Either way, it seems clear that there's a bit of a disconnect within Symbian's organisation. Management may have decided it would be a good idea to go open source, but the way the company works lower down will make this a more-than-tricky task. The engineer demonstrating the work with Scalado didn't have the foggiest as to how current work and the open source policy will merge. Neither do I.