Nokia, already a shareholder of Symbian, has announced yesterday the acquisition of the remaining 52% it didn’t own for €264 million, along with the promise to make it open-source in two years, with the launch of the Symbian Foundation, where Nokia will be joined by AT&T, LG Electronics, Motorola, NTT DOCOMO, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, STMicroelectronics, Texas Instruments and Vodafone.
The Symbian OS platform has 67% share of the “smart mobile device” market and is powering around 200 million mobile phones sold to date, especially thanks to Nokia’s S60 platform used in its popular Series N and Series E phones. Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Motorola and NTT Docomo, will unite their Symbian-based platforms in an open mobile software platform available for free to all Symbian Foundation members, in a move that seems a direct response to Google’s open-source (and free for manufacturers) Android mobile platform, while still making economic sense for Nokia (who paid €160M in royalties to Symbian Limited in 2007 alone).
Tomorrow’s mobile business is all about software, Apple clearly demonstrates this with the iPhone. As Om Malik pointed out in a great post, “in this platform game, the winner is going to be the one that can attract the most developers”. So with yesterday’s announcement, a big win for the open-source movement, Nokia is trying to face competition with open platforms like Mobile Linux and Google’s Android, and of course, less open but rich platforms like Apple’s iPhone, in an effort to attract the most and best developers to build mobile applications.
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