It’s Official: Mobile Goes Open Source

Well, according to Symbian. I’ve been attending Smartphone Show 2008, because we have an open source Symbian SIP stack.

In the first two hours of the  I’ve been listening to Symbian itself, but also Motorola, Sony Ericcson, and Nokia.

I’ve lost count of how many times ‘open source’ is mentioned. Nigel Clifford, Symbian’s CEO, mentioned a figure of $300m in royalty revenues to be ‘given back’ to the ecosystem.

That’s a really clever way of putting it. He did admit some of them will be ‘pocketed’ instead of being used to ‘innovate’.

Which is another rather overused word during the whole show. One of the main argument for going open source is innovation over control.

Of course, one can always say Apple seemed to be able to out-innovate everyone in the mobile space, by having total and absolute control (Benoit Schillings, Qt CTO, alluded to a ‘dictator’ style of development).

So the strategy to beat Apple (and to a lesser extent Microsoft and Linux) is to club together in the Symbian Foundation, and using open source as the common denominator, a level playing field.

Number of devices already shipped, number of companies involved is frequently cited. It is hoped the ‘ecosystem’ will be large enough to eclipse (pun intended) other mobile platforms. The newly appointed Executive Director Lee Williams, also do not want to put a ‘30% tax’ on the ecosystem.

It worked in the software tools space with Eclipse, but a mobile platform is a different beast altogether.

You can read up other thoughts on this matter from Dean Bubley and Simon Judge. Incidentally I can answer Simon’s wondering about UIQ: It’s officially dead. Patrik Olsson, VP and Head of Software at Sony Ericsson, said ‘you can get ready for Symbian Foundation-based Sony Ericsson phones now by using S60’.

1 Response to “It’s Official: Mobile Goes Open Source”


  1. 1 Nilu 27 October 2008 at 21:16

    I guess that they are very affraid of both OS-X and Linux/Android.
    Symbian is not really an easy platform to work on.


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