Symbian Seeks to Attract Developers With Open-source Code

Symbian is courting developers ahead of its transition to ownership by Nokia and the formation of a foundation dedicated to developing the operating system.

Symbian CEO Nigel Clifford said on Tuesday the Symbian Foundation will contribute high-quality code while trying to make it easier for manufacturers to build devices using the OS.

"We're going to be taking more cost and more effort out of device creation," said Clifford during a keynote speech at the Symbian smartphone show in London.

Clifford said the foundation will also work to combine three user interfaces for Symbian – UIQ, Series 60 and MOAPS – into one platform that will be primarily S60-based, he said.

Nokia announced in June it would buy the rest of Symbian. It had owned a 48 percent stake up until then. Symbian also said it would make its mobile code open-source, allowing companies to use the OS under a royalty-free license.

Symbian also formed a foundation, with members including Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Motorola, NTT DoCoMo, AT&T, LG Electronics, Samsung Electronics, STMicroelectronics, Texas Instruments and Vodafone Group.

The decision to give away the OS means Symbian loses $300 million in annual licensing revenue, Clifford said. But the money will likely be used by companies to innovate on Symbian, which will be key to keeping the OS competitive, Clifford said.

Clifford acknowledge that developers in the past were somewhat put off by Symbian licensing.

"Up until now maybe developers have been little bit put off by licensing arrangements, by terms and conditions and that is one of the principal changes with the Symbian Foundation," Clifford said.

Clifford did not say when the Symbian code will be available, but implored developers to start working. The basis of the Symbian Foundation's code is already contained in the APIs (application programming interfaces) for the Series 60 platform, Clifford said.

"Please have a look and think about how you can handshake that Symbian code," he said.

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