The Symbian Foundation Is Dead – Long Live Symbian

We could see this coming when Tim Holbrow took over from Lee Williams as the head of the Symbian Foundation last month, we could also see this when Nokia announced that it will give Symbian an evolution based model of updates, and today it is official. The Symbian Foundation will be no more and will transition into a license based system over the next six months. Why did the foundation collapse? Simple, companies like Sony Ericsson and Samsung pulled out and took their funding with them. No money, no fun and since Nokia will not have to shoulder the entire burden themselves, why not do it their way.

The Symbian Foundation Is Dead - Long Live Symbian

‘Nokia will continue to invest in the development of the Symbian platform; and we plan to make the software available to the Symbian ecosystem via an alternative, direct and open model. Developers can expect more rapid innovations for the Symbian platform, occurring in a timely and iterative manner,” said Nokia CTO Rich Green.

This is what Jo Harlow, SVP, Smartphones for Nokia has to say on the move:

‘You may have seen today that the Symbian Foundation announced it will be ramping down its operational activities and over the next six months will transition into a simple licensing body. I know that this was not an easy decision for the board. A few big companies announced their intention to leave the Foundation recently taking their funding with them. The Foundation was forced to reconsider its future and after a board meeting, decided it could not continue in its present form.’

She also goes onto say that:

Make no mistake, Nokia chooses Symbian.

Do not confuse the endof the Foundation with the end of the Symbian platform. The Foundation has been very important in steering the platform through increasingly challenging waters, but the Foundation and the platform are not the same. Nokia has no intention to change the plans announced on the 21st October to continue to develop and evolve Symbian.

In the post on Nokia Conversations, she further goes onto reiterate the October 21 policy which means that current Symbian^3 devices like the N8, E7, C7 etc will all benefit from the updates Nokia aims to bring to Symbian. I can only visualize good things happening as a result of this. Nokia’s committed to being more nimble and the greater control this more brings can only help.

Full press release below.

AMSTERDAM, SYMBIAN EXCHANGE & EXPOSITION (SEE), NOVEMBER 8, 2010 – Following a strategy review, the board of the Symbian Foundation has today decided to transition the role of the non-profit organisation. The foundation will become a legal entity responsible for licensing software and other intellectual property, such as the Symbian trademark. Nokia has committed to make the future development of the Symbian platform available to the ecosystem via an alternative direct and open model.

“The founding board members took a bold strategic step in setting up the foundation, which was absolutely the right decision at the time,” says Tim Holbrow, executive director, Symbian Foundation. “There has since been a seismic change in the mobile market but also more generally in the economy, which has led to a change in focus for some of our funding board members. The result of this is that the current governance structure for the Symbian platform – the foundation – is no longer appropriate.

“However, the platform enjoys strong support from some of the largest and most innovative device creators in the world. And we continue to see solid momentum behind the platform, with 25 percent of all Symbian-based devices shipping in the last 12 months.*

“I’m immensely proud of the work we’ve done at the Symbian Foundation. Perhaps most notably, in the last year we’ve delivered the biggest open source project ever in releasing the entire Symbian codebase under an open source license, and we did it four months ahead of schedule.”

The first phase of the foundation’s transition will involve a reduction in operations and staff numbers. By April 2011, the Symbian Foundation will be governed by a group of non-executive directors tasked with overseeing the organisation’s licensing function.

“Nokia remains committed to Symbian as the most used smartphone platform around the world,” said Jo Harlow, senior vice president, Smartphones, Nokia. “The Nokia N8 generated the highest online pre-orders we’ve ever experienced and we have a family of Symbian^3 smartphones including the Nokia N8, Nokia C7, and Nokia C6-01 which are available now, as well as the Nokia E7 which is expected to ship before the end of 2010. Nokia expects to sell more than 50 million Symbian^3 smartphones.”

The Symbian Foundation leadership team will work together with Nokia to ensure that the reduction in operations of the foundation will bring as little disruption to the ecosystem as possible. Further details of this process will be shared at a later date.

Today’s announcement does not affect the Symbian Exchange & Exposition (SEE 2010), which will commence on November 9th in Amsterdam. SEE 2010 will bring together attendees from over 55 countries to engage, exchange and explore opportunities offered by the Symbian platform.

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