Nokia will take over development of the Symbian platform less than two years after it handed over control of the technology to the Symbian Foundation, which made the technology open source last February.
Beginning in April 2011, Nokia will handle the development of the Symbian platform and the Symbian Foundation will be relegated to a simple licensing body.
The Symbian Foundation’s decision came after Samsung and Sony Ericsson left the group to focus on smartphones using other technology platforms, especially Google’s fast-rising Android operating system. Today, Reuters reported that Sharp and Fujitsu unveiled 11 new Symbian devices in a rare show of support for the platform.
Jo Harlow, senior vice president of smartphones at Nokia, said in a blog post the departure of Samsung and Sony Ericsson stripped the Symbian Foundation of important funding.
“The Foundation was forced to reconsider its future and after a board meeting, decided it could not continue in its present form,” Harlow said in a blog post.
Nokia said it plans to continue to invest its own resources in developing Symbian, which has a massive global installed base numbering in the hundreds of millions.
Nokia plans to focus on Qt as its sole application development framework for both Symbian and MeeGo, its new smartphone platform that will launch some time next year. Applications developed in Qt for Symbian now will work on future MeeGo devices, Harlow said.
Nokia’s Symbian platform is widely viewed as unable to compete against the likes of iOS and Android, and the company is billing its upcoming open source MeeGo technology as a mobile computing platform capable of handling smartphones, in-car entertainment and netbooks.
Last Week, the European Commission and the Artemis Joint Technology Initiative pledged $15.32 million over the next three years to developing Symbian technology. The pledge was met with a matching pledge from the SYMBEOSE (“Symbian – the Embedded Operating System for Europe”) consortium.
A spokesman for Nokia said the effort would go ahead as planned. “The money isn’t to be used for operational purposes by the Symbian Foundation itself or any of the companies in the consortium. It will be wholly invested in future research and development projects for the Symbian platform, building skills in universities, research organizations and European companies,” he said in an e-mail.