The Symbian operating system, used largely on Nokia smart phones, has now joined the Open Source operating systems. With Symbian joining Android in the Free and Open Source (FOSS) world for mobile computing, it could be signaling a trend that will push even habitually and systemically closed systems like the Apple’s into becoming open source . . . .if every competitor goes there, it could happen.
Although Google and Apple get most of the buzz these days, Symbian is attempting to redirect attention their way. Will it work? Perhaps they’ll get a ripple. Among those who watch technology the closest, the outlook isn’t positive. The platform hasn’t exactly taken off with developers – for example, the Symbian platform has only 10 percent as many games as the Blackberry – not exactly known as a hotbed for gaming.
And the Symbian move is not innovative – other platforms have already gone open source – so some see the move as being a “catch up” decision. However, it does open up an opportunity for small companies or developers with big ideas to get noticed fast – it’s easy to be a big fish in a pond of only 254 apps., as opposed to trying to stand out among the thousands in the Apple App store.
Right now, Symbian is Windows exclusive, but that could change quickly. An open source Symbian provides new competition to GNU/Linux, and may foster some innovations and expanding product lines – including new tablet computers.
If you’ve got a great app idea, then Symbian may be the place to try a new development.
Overall, the exciting thing about yet another FOSS operating system is the fact that it’s becoming a “routine” event rather than an example of a unique and unusual MO. When a major operating system goes open source and the development community collectively says, “Yeah, well, that’s how things are done these days,” it’s a major step forward.