SAN FRANCISCO—Instead of seeing fewer operating systems for mobile handsets, their numbers keep growing. Examples include Apple’s iPhone and the soon-to-be Android OS.
So, what do those in the industry think of this seeming fragmentation? Not a problem; in fact, the market will solve any problems. That’s the opinion of several participants at a discussion hosted by the Symbian Foundation stakeholders on the sidelines of the CTIA Wireless I.T. & Entertainment show.
Christy Wyatt, vice president of Software Platforms and Ecosystem for Motorola, said there is always the danger there could be a complete fragmentation of operating systems, especially with the growing varieties of “open source” operating systems. But she said the reality is that companies involved in software services will work to focus on a few operating systems.
And Oren Levine, who heads marketing for Nokia’s S60 Innovation Platform unit, said handset manufacturers will focus on the application programming interfaces and not on the operating systems. He said there will never be a single mobile OS because of the vast hardware diversity but there will be a contraction of the number of platforms.
Symbian itself is joining the open source community. Nokia acquired Symbian earlier this year in a deal that will close sometime before the end of the year. Nokia had announced plans to contribute Symbian OS and S60 assets to the new Symbian Foundation. Motorola, Sony Ericsson, NTT DoCoMo and Fujitsu also plan on contributing to the new platform. The foundation then plans to give the OS away for free to foundation members, sometime during the first half of 2009, with the final open source platform available by June of 2010.
David Wood, executive vice president of Symbian, said about 40 companies have joined the foundation since it was announced in June. Among these are carriers AT&T, NTT DoCoMo and Vodafone.