Device operating systems

Nokia Takes the Helm at Symbian

The Symbian Foundation isn't shutting down, but it is due for a major shakeup. Its board announced today it will change its role to become a legal entity to license Symbian software and other intellectual property, such as the Symbian Ltd. trademark. (See Symbian Adopts Licensing Model.)

In addition, Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) will take Symbian platform development back into its fold and make it available "to the ecosystem via an alternative direct and open model."

As a result of the changes, the Foundation will reduce headcount in operations and staff and, by April of next year, will be governed by a "group of non-executive directors responsible for licensing the OS."

Nokia, which will be responsible for Symbian development, made it clear that today's news has no adverse impact on Nokia's Symbian device roadmaps or shipping commitments. In a release, the company said it expects to sell more than 50 million Symbian^3 smartphones and already has some on the market, such as the Nokia N8, Nokia C7, and Nokia C6-01. The Finnish handset maker will meld Qt, its app development framework, with Symbian to improve the struggling OS.

Why it matters
Symbian is still the OS embedded in the majority of the world's mobile phones, but it has been struggling to remain relevant for a while now. The OS has lost the backing of most handset makers, leaving Nokia as the only major manufacturer left supporting it and many assuming the Foundation was headed for extinction. (See OS Watch: Samsung, Sony Ericsson Ditch Symbian.) Nokia, too, has been hurting, causing the company to bring in ex- Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) exec Stephen Elop, who is already changing things at the Finnish handset maker. We'll know more this week as Symbian holds its annual developers conference in Amsterdam. (See Nokia's 'Unpolished Gems' and Nokia Dumps CEO, Hires Elop.)

For more
For more on Nokia and Symbian's sordid relationship and OS struggles, please check out these other stories:

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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