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Nokia’s Symbian delivers opensource goodness four months early

In June of 2008, Nokia has announced that it is acquiring full ownership of Symbian to make the operating system open source. Symbian a leading mobile phone operating system in the world is used not only by Nokia mobile phones but by other phone manufacturers such as Samsung, Sharp, Fujitsu, Mitsubishi, Sendo and Sony Ericsson. The decision to take the open source route is one of the biggest if not the biggest open source conversion project. It was a bold move on the part of Nokia. I could just imagine the amount of license agreements that needs to be ironed out in order to open source all of the source code in the mobile operating system.

This February 2010, Nokia has delivered on that promise. It has now made available the source code for the most used mobile operating system on the planet. Making the source code available to every geek / hacker on the planet does have its merits and fun. Let me talk about it’s merits first.

Open sourcing the Symbian operating system will allow global scrutiny of the source code. It will enable the best of breed hackers to find ways to improve on the source code in terms of performance, functionality, stability and security. Of course the Symbian operating system is quite a mature mobile OS but it’s far from perfect. There will always be ways to make it better and millions of heads is better than hundreds or thousands.

A taste of these community driven improvement has already trickled in the form of improving it’s user interface (UI) so that using Symbian can offer the best possible user experience (UX) for the next generation touch screen connected phones. Some of the proposed screens appear below:

The next exciting thing about open sourced Symbian is the fun aspect. There are lots of talented hackers who, probably as I am writing this article, would try and make the mobile operating system run on other mobile devices. I can thing of several right now like Nokia’s own Maemo-based N900 or Google’s Android-based Nexus One. Hell, they will probably even make it run on Apple’s iPhone. The possibilities are endless, maybe we’ll even see Symbian on netbooks, tables, MID’s or iPad’s.

So if you’re a developer or just someone who is interested in accessing the source code of the now open mobile platform called Symbian, you can access it from this link at the Symbian site. You can also checkout what Lee Williams, CEO of Symbian, had to say in his Twitter account to Steve Jobs and Bill Gates about open source Symbian in the video below:


In the midst of all these activities, the actual major benefactor to Nokia’s move to open-source Symbian will be the users. Those people who have used Symbian and will be using the Symbian open mobile platform of the future. Symbian can now evolve to address the needs of the new generation of connected phones.

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