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Businesses Cellphones Communications Operating Systems Software

Nokia to Acquire and Open Source Symbian 150

Posted by timothy
from the to-fight-an-android-you-must-become-one dept.
zyzko writes "Nokia has placed an offer on Symbian stock — it currently owns a 48% share and intends to buy the other shareholders out, 91% of the stockholders have already agreed. The press has already labeled this as an countermeasure to fight Android. Nokia has also created Symbian foundation — it might mean more open Symbian." Symbian is "currently the world's dominant smartphone operating system (206 million phones shipped, 18.5 million in Q1 2008)," writes reader thaig, who points out coverage in the Economic Times. If this deal goes through as expected, the Foundation says that selected components of the Symbian operating system would be made available as open source at launch under the Eclipse Public License (EPL) 1.0 , with the rest of the platform following over the next two years.
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Nokia to Acquire and Open Source Symbian

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  • Awareness... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by superash (1045796) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @08:14AM (#23915601)
    This is an amazing move by the mobile giant(at least in Europe and Asia) and it again shows that they can and will react to what is going on around them. They accepted that they got their ass kicked by Apple/Google and they accepted the challenge which made them buy Trolltech(Qt) and now Symbian. And this buyout is understandable from Nokia's point of view as just last year they paid close to $250million to Symbian in licensing fees.

    Now the market is really heating up. After the whole Symbian OS and S60 goes open source Microsoft/Apple will be under lot of pressure to react to this. Even though lot of consumers will not bother if the platform is open or not, once touch devices are unveiled by Nokia, the number of applications that will be developed will be huge. Not to mention the contributions will be from all the major handset vendors (LG, Samsung, Motorola etc). For once I think we have all the evil corporates agree on something whcih looks like will make the consumers life easy.

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @08:19AM (#23915641) Homepage

    First breath, " OSS needs to be more DRM and hate the customer attitude friendly. We need to lock this stuff up so the customer can not do what they want!"

    Second Breath, "WE are buying the Symbian Phone OS, can we get some free developers on this? we will Open source it! Mmkay? thanks!"

    So which is it? did they retract their previous standce that DRM and locking was wonderful and needed?

  • by abigsmurf (919188) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @08:22AM (#23915675)
    They're using an open source licence that has no qualms about integration with DRM measures. OSS != free from DRM measures despite what some people would have you believe
  • by edderly (549951) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @08:30AM (#23915775)

    I don't think it upsets the 'whole' community. It's obviously bound to upset the say-alot/contribute-nothing crowd and Stallmanites.

    Sure, perhaps it's not the best idea to raise issues which aren't popular with a certain body of people.

    In the real world we have plenty of products which incorporate open source technologies and DRM. DRM will die for a lot better reasons than not being open source friendly.

  • by Candid88 (1292486) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @08:52AM (#23916073)

    DRM and closed/Open Source are not the same thing. As far as cellphone makers go, Nokia are one of the few advocates of open source software.

    They never said DRM was "wonderful", they said it was "necessary". They have a platform they want to bring content to, it's plainly obvious it's the content providers who are the cause of the "necessary" bit.

  • Observations (Score:5, Insightful)

    by edderly (549951) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @08:56AM (#23916123)


    1. Symbian OS is shipped in a whole bunch of phones and this move will ensure that current development projects based on the OS are more likely to continue because it became a whole lot cheaper to make a Symbian phone. $4 per unit doesn't sound like a lot but that is a huge margin for a phone manufacturer.

    2. The licensing issues for Symbian OS and various UI components will become vastly easier to resolve and make it easier to start a phone project. Symbian OS is currently a web of various source categorizations depending on your partner status level (developer/device creator/semi conductor partner), that doesn't even consider the semi-co base port components, multimedia infrastructure/codecs and the UI (Series 60, UIQ etc).

    The UI for Symbian products contains an extremely large amount of functionality you would expect in the base OS.

    In the end it's a damn sight easier to do business with tech companies on an open source basis.

    3. It raises interesting questions about whether there will be continued investment in Symbian oriented technologies. One technology question area that stands out is the kernel. The current Symbian OS kernel (called EKA2 by the way) is microkernel design optimised for the various ARM architectures with low latency features and a small memory footprint.

    Application processors for mobile processors are starting to look towards SMP designs in order to increase performance without incurring large power consumption penalties. The Symbian kernel and OS design doesn't currently support SMP, so it is possible that the Linux kernel is the direction to go in - obsoleting the EKA2 kernel at some point in the future for high end mobile devices.

    However it is probably worth pointing out that whilst the Linux kernel works well for SMP systems for scalable performance whether it does this AND manages to be good for power saving/consumption is possibly less proven.

    4. There are questions over how open is this environment? If a $1500 dollar license is required to get the source, is this open? Doesn't quite sound like it.

    5. How will this open source environment operate? There appear to be problems with open source projects which involve a dominant partner. IBM - Eclipse, Sun - Java,OpenOffice,MySQL are notable examples.

    Being open source is good for doing business but there are many practicalities to work out which make a technology good or bad open source.

  • by jimicus (737525) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @08:59AM (#23916181)

    Its become much *much* worse. The number of classes has increased to over 1700. Documentation is terrible. Code signing has immensely complicated everything.

    That had me thinking, actually.


    It's all well and good open-sourcing Symbian but if nobody can run their own home-compiled version because their mobile phone refuses to run an unsigned OS image, then you'll have a lot of trouble getting anyone outside of Nokia to put in any development effort.

  • by Ginger Unicorn (952287) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @09:25AM (#23916505)
    The GPL ensures the freedom of the all users, by restricting distributors from withholding the source from downstream users - a similar freedom those distributors enjoyed which allowed them access to the source code in their binaries in their first place. Do you honestly feel the minor "restriction" (more accurately a simple and easily fulfilled obligation) to not withhold what was freely shared to you is worse than the deliberate act of constructing DRM, to facilitate the imposition of any and every arbitrary whim of the distributor on all downstream users?

    In terms of the freedom of all users as a collective, rather than just the subset of users that want to insert DRM to restrict the freedom of all users, there is no Freer licence than the GPL. Having a set of rules to ensure freedom is a hell of a lot freer than a total absence of rules.

    take the example of the US constitution - what's freer - that set of "restrictions" or a total anarchy?

  • Re:My moneys (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Poorcku (831174) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @09:25AM (#23916515) Homepage
    Mod me down on this, but my money is on Nokia. I haven't seen a Google / Android phone yet.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @10:19AM (#23917525)

    You can run your homemade code on selected terminals just fine. You just cannot run that code on ALL terminals. Like it or not, this restriction has largely accounted for the lack of viruses under Symbian.

  • Re:Observations (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ilgaz (86384) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @11:10AM (#23918667) Homepage

    In Symbiand, if your application floods memory, it gets ass kicked by low memory framework. Only System Application marked applications are free of it but that marking requires a very strict certification process.
    Also lets not forget the user factor. If your app uses lots of ram and CPU, it doesn't have future in users handset. User says "oh crap" and reaches to "Application manager" to get rid of it.
    It is all open market with Symbian Inc. (foundation) governing the borders. It is how those die hard rivals work on same OS even before the "foundation". It is more like Java scene.

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