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.
There has been a lot of speculation about Symbian in recent years. Nokia acquired Symbian in 2008 and established the Symbian Foundation, making Symbian available royalty free and in open source. At that time, this was the fairest way to ensure that the huge ecosystem benefitting from Symbian development didn’t lose out. Since then the competitive landscape has changed considerably. With competition comes choice and every company has had to make choices about their software strategy based on their own priorities and capabilities.
Make no mistake, Nokia chooses Symbian.
Do not confuse the end of 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.
Nokia believes in Symbian because we know that it isthe only platform capable of serving our global audience with a range of devices carrying locally relevant content and services. We also believe that decisions were needed to make Symbian more competitive and attractive to developers. That’s why we announced we would focus on Qt and Qt Quick for application development. Qt is itself a thriving open source framework and already a firm favourite with many developers because of its ability to accelerate the development of rich, visual applications. We will focus on Qt and Qt Quick for our own development for both Symbian and the MeeGo platform, which means that applications developed in Qt for Symbian now will still work on Nokia MeeGo devices in the future (we’re planning 2011 for launch of MeeGo products). Finally, focusing on a single framework means that there will be no break between current and future versions of Symbian on Nokia devices. Anything developed for the latest range of Nokia Symbian smartphones would work on future devices, and importantly, any future developments of the Symbian user experience would benefit users of the recently launched products like the Nokia N8, Nokia C7, recently shipped Nokia C6 or soon to be shipped Nokia E7.
The Foundation’s decision does not in any way slow down our plans for Symbian or Qt. Nokia has already started to focus its own engineering resources on Qt and Qt Quick and we’re busy developing our own applications and services in the framework.
We are grateful to the Foundation and its employees for all they have done to keep Symbian as the the most used global smartphone platform. Now it is time for Nokia to drive where Symbian can go next. The end of the Foundation is the end of an era, but for Symbian, a new era is only just beginning.
– Jo Harlow, SVP, Smartphones