Mobile handset-makers to offer free mobile OS

The major mobile manufacturers are joining forces with operators to make the Symbian...

The major mobile manufacturers are joining forces with operators to make the Symbian mobile OS free to develop and use, which will make it even harder for Microsoft to establish its Windows Mobile OS in the mobile market.

Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Motorola and Japan's NTT DoCoMo have announced their intent to "unite" the Symbian OS with the S60, UIQ and MOAP(S) operating software from the various suppliers to create one open mobile software platform.

Together with AT&T, LG Electronics, Samsung Electronics, STMicroelectronics, Texas Instruments and Vodafone (a Windows Mobile partner), they plan to establish the Symbian Foundation to extend the appeal of this unified software platform.

Membership of the non-profit foundation will be open to all organisations.

The initiative is supported by shareholders and managers of Symbian Limited, who have been actively involved in its development.

To allow for the creation of the foundation, Nokia, Symbian's main supporter, today announced plans to acquire the remaining shares of Symbian Limited that it does not already own, and then contribute the Symbian and S60 software to the foundation.

Sony Ericsson and Motorola have announced their intention to contribute technology from UIQ, and NTT DoCoMo has also indicated its willingness to contribute its MOAP(S) assets.

From these contributions, the foundation will provide a unified platform with common UI framework. A full platform will be available for all Symbian Foundation members under a royalty-free license, from the foundation's first day of operations.

Contributions from foundation members through open collaboration will be integrated to further enhance the platform.

The Symbian Foundation will make selected components available as open source at launch. It will then work to establish the most complete mobile software offering available in open source. This will be made available over the next two years, and is intended to be released under Eclipse Public License (EPL) 1.0.

Symbian is already loaded on 200 million phones across 235 models, and is the industry's leading OS for smartphones. Although Microsoft's Windows Mobile has been chipping away at Symbian's marketshare in recent years, it has struggled to be adopted by many mass market devices.

Read more on Mobile hardware