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Symbian and open source: Who's going to show up?

Posted by terrencebarr on July 22, 2008 at 8:49 PM PDT

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There has been quite a lot of press around Nokia's announcement to buy Symbian, unify S60, UIQ, and MOAB, and open source the platform within two years. This move highlights a number of important things such as the intensifying battle for supremacy in the mobile platform space but also the acknowledgement that the open source model has firmly arrived in the mobile space, even for traditionally closed and proprietary platform vendors.

However, for me one of the more interesting topics is just how Nokia will approach this massive open source undertaking and, even more importantly, expand their developer base. Nokia, of course, has been involved in a number of open source projects over the last few years (most notably, maemo) but as a company they are clearly still grappling to adjust to the open source mindset. So it will be interesting to see how Nokia and their partners handle this transition and manage to create a vibrant and active community around the code that goes beyond their traditional corporate developers.

Here is an eye-catching quote from an interview with Janne Jalkanen from Nokia:

"Pretty much the only community around S60 is the community we pay to be there ..."

I encourage you to read the interview. Not only does it provide some interesting insights into the existing Symbian technology and ecosystem but it highlights some key issues commercial companies are having when moving to open source and how they are struggling to find the right model and get traction and adoption by developers ... which, at the end of the day, is what open source is all about.

Cheers,

-- Terrence