Sunday, March 18, 2007

Open source Symbian OS ? New frontier or blasphemy

The fact that Symbian has an outstanding position in smatphone OS market isn't something new, as it is not new its strong relashionship with Nokia from economical as well as technical point of view. Nokia is the major shareholder of Symbian Co. therefore its predominant position makes less appealing the partecipation of others investors (that little by little reduce their shares) and the arrival of new ones.

Technically speaking, Symbian OS lack of important modules whose implementation is in licensees' scope, namely telephony application, DRM, IMS . This clue makes difficult the work for device manifactures who need to deal with two entities to adapt OS to hadware. In addition it's more difficult to foresee the evolution of the OS and undestand if it will support this technology or that one.

This is a fundamental point in the decision to adopt an OS. The decision influences not only the current platform but also the next ones, in a clear effort to avoid each time to approach a new software platform and its tools, and to reuse as much as possible by previous projects.

What could be the strategy to let Symbian be more appealing and less Nokia dependent? Be open....completely open! Enable single contributors and companies to experiment, to extend your operative system. Its difficult to address each request and even more difficult pick the right ones, but other players can create their niche on topics less interesting for the mainstream industry. Less interesting at present, but who knows what will be the mobile industry trend in 5-10 years? Why should I be a licensee to prototype on Symbian?

Being open source was a revolutionary concept some years ago, but now it's turning into a recognized business model, there is more than Linux...for istance, look at Funambol or Helix.

Even if this would lead to profileration of Symbian distributions, Symbian Co. will mantain a reference position and a reason to be as it is for Red Hat, Real Networks, Funambol...

Maybe someone has already evaluated this solution and even considered if Symbian's major shareholder would allow such disruptive policy in a market where it (Nokia) has a consolitated position!

Maybe someone has even evaluated that without an available reference hardware platform it's hard to prototype anything....Is there any manifacturer listening out there? As far as I know the only project based on open source hardware is OpenMoko. It's more than a geek project to produce a phone since they are near to ship the first phones this month...for developers, and in September for mass market. Of course it's a Linux based project, while FIC has created the hardware platform.

Blogged with Flock

Labels: , , ,


At 2:18 AM, Blogger Malcolm Lithgow said...

Actually, Symbian does have telephony, DRM, and IM modules. In fact, Symbian seems to have a richer functionality that OSS equivalents. Given this, why open source the OS at all?

Remember, Open Sourcing has costs as well as benefits. Do the benefits outweigh the costs for Symbian?

Have a look at my post at here for a more complete argument on this.


Post a Comment

<< Home