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Nokia buys Symbian

Nokia buys Symbian in pre-emptive strike against Google's Android mobile OS
Nokia buys Symbian in pre-emptive strike against Google's Android mobile OS

In a bid to thwart the best efforts of the momentum-gathering Open Handset Alliance (OHA), Nokia has bought the remaining shares in the Symbian mobile platform.

The Finnish mobile phone manufacturer will then turn over all the IP for the mobile software platform to the newly-created Symbian Foundation.

Nokia plans to acquire the 52 percent of Symbian shares that its does not already own for 264 million euros (£208 million).

Team play

Founder members of the foundation will include AT&T, LG Electronics, Vodafone and Samsung, with Sony Ericsson, Motorola and Japan's NTT DoCoMo contributing technology.

This means the Symbian OS, the S60 from Nokia, SE and Motorola's UIQ and NTT DoCoMo's MOAP mobile platforms will all be merged into one version to rival anything other alliances, such as the OHA, can bang out.

The Symbian Foundation is to be a non-profit making foundation, with all members working collaboratively in order to try to establish the most complete open source mobile software.

The move is potentially huge for the mobile phone industry, as it means a number of mobile platforms are going to be merged in order to create one standard to rule them all.

If you're having trouble imagining the war this could create, think along the Betamax/VHS or Blu-Ray/HD-DVD wars.

The platform is set to begin work in its new guise mid way through 2009. The plan is to make the whole thing open source within the next two years, though 'select components' will be available at launch.

"Establishing the Foundation is one of the biggest contributions to an open community ever made," said Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, CEO of Nokia.

"Nokia is a strong supporter of open platforms and technologies as they give the freedom to build, maintain and evolve applications and services across device segments and offer by far the largest ecosystem, enabling rapid innovation. Today's announcement is a major milestone in our devices software strategy."

Whether the move works as a pre-emptive strike against Google's Open Handset Alliance and LiMo remains to be seen.