Nokia has announced it will assume full control of the Symbian operating system, retaking management after giving to the open source community just 18 months ago. The company will begin taking care of Symbian platform development in April 2011, leaving the Symbian Foundation with the responsibility of only licensing the software. Symbian will continue be developed by its community of programmers around the world, but Nokia will now oversee the process.
Nokia bought out other shareholders in Symbian in 2008 and opened the software for any manufacturers to use for free, on an open-source basis. Symbian failed to win wide adoption and essentially became a de facto Nokia-only operating system this year after Samsung and Sony Ericsson abandoned it in favor of Google's Android. The Finnish handset maker has remained the key contributor to the development of the software and is responsible for some 95 percent of Symbian phone. The OS continues to lead the mobile market but its share has been steadily slipping.
Despite the move, many speculate that Nokia is de-emphasizing Symbian development and instead focusing on Meego, the mobile OS which Intel and Nokia teamed up to push nine months ago. MeeGo phones and tablets will be available in 2011, with handsets arriving in the first half of 2011, and tablets sometime later in the year.
"The future of Symbian as a platform does not depend on the existence of the foundation," Jo Harlow, Nokia's Senior Vice President of Smartphones, said in a statement. "The changes announced by the foundation have no impact on Nokia's Symbian device roadmaps or shipping commitments. The platform powers hundreds of millions of smartphones - including our own - and we expect to deliver ongoing support and innovation benefitting the Symbian ecosystem in the future."