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Will open source secure Symbian's future?

Cliff Saran

The Symbian Foundation has released the source code for the Symbian operating system to the open source community, which means 330 million mobile devices now run an open source operating system.

All 108 packages containing the source code of the Symbian platform can be downloaded from Symbian's developer website, under the terms of the Eclipse Public License and other open source licences. Software engineers can also download the Symbian Developer Kit for building apps.

Lee Williams, executive director of the Symbian Foundation, said, "The development community is now empowered to shape the future of the mobile industry, and rapid innovation on a global scale will be the result."

Symbian is the most widely used operating system, but its popularity has lagged behind newer platforms such as iPhone OS and Google Android. "Symbian is trying to get manufacturers to use its OS in their devices," said Tony Cripps, senior analyst and service manager in Ovum's wireless software advisory service.

He said Nokia, which is the biggest handset manufacturer in the world, is fully committed to the Symbian platform, making Symbian the widest-deployed mobile platform. But Cripps said, "Application developers can only support a small number of platforms, Symbian is looking a bit long in the tooth." This means it has been losing out as a platform for new apps, mainly to the iPhone.


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