Nokia may be carefully guarding the Symbian^3 build running on their Nokia N8 prototypes, but according to Lee Williams, executive director of the Symbian Foundation, the OS code itself "is almost completely mature." In fact, it looks like it will be ready before the N8 itself is; the first handset to market with Symbian^3 won't be the Nokia smartphone but one from an unnamed Asian vendor.
Williams says that the OS is only waiting on final checks before it's ready to ship. "There is a small share of code which is pending checking by its contributors" he explained to Reuters. However, future versions - including Symbian^4, which is tipped to bring with it more significant UI and other changes - are still very much dependent on Nokia's timescales. Still, Williams expects "a very mature Symbian^4" by Q1 2011.
As for what has seen Symbian market share decline in the face of rival platforms, Williams in part blames the long approvals process for developers to get their apps onto users' handsets. That can take six months, he suggests, versus weeks or less on Apple's also-stringent iPhone OS.