Clifford on Why Symbian Went Open Source

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When Nokia bought out Symbian and then took the mobile operating system open source a few months ago, many were surprised. Some even suggested the move was ill timed. When the company made the announcement, Symbian CEO Nigel Clifford said:

Our vision is to become the most widely used software platform on the planet and indeed today Symbian OS leads its market by any measure. Today's announcement is a bold new step to achieve that vision by embracing a complete and proven platform, offered in an open way, designed to stimulate innovation which is at the heart of everything we do.

In a recent post at silicon.com, writer Natasha Lomas details a discussion she had with Clifford recently, covering everything from competition in the smartphone space, usability, and how and why the leading mobile OS is making the move to an open source development model. IT Business Edge's Carl Weinschenk writes on the smartphone and mobile tech space extensively, so I'll leave those for him.


As for the open source angle, Clifford shared an interesting perspective and strategy. For instance, on the decision to open the OS, he said:

At the heart of it is a belief that the power of many is better than the power of the few and that by making ourselves open we then have the opportunity to use millions of brains who perhaps previously were held a little bit distant from us.

Behind that decision is also the knowledge that even though Symbian still leads the market, that market is changing with the entrance of such players as Apple and Google. The Symbian Foundation is also changing the way Symbian approaches and interacts with developers, he said. It removes the barriers of the royalty business model and the fragmentation that comes from having "several different flavors" of the OS out there. Now all of those "flavors" will be able to operate on a single platform.