Symbian development shifts to Nokia as Foundation funding sees "change in focus"

Nokia is taking responsibility for future Symbian development as of March 2011, with the Symbian Foundation transitioning to a non-profit organization that will license software and IP – including the Symbian trademark itself – to other companies. According to Tim Holbrow, executive director, "the current governance structure for the Symbian platform – the foundation – is no longer appropriate" after the volatile economy led to "a change in focus for some of our funding board members."

Nonetheless, Symbian will remain open source, though Nokia are said to be exploring "an alternative open model." According to Holbrow, despite the frequent criticisms of Symbian as an old OS, 25-percent of all Symbian-based devices shipped within the last twelve months.

The end result for the Foundation is a serious slimming program, described as "a reduction in operations and staff numbers" that will leave just a group of non-executive directors in charge. Nokia, for its part, "remains committed to Symbian" and still intends to use the OS moving forward as well as continue to bake in Qt.

Press Release:

Nokia commits to make the Symbian platform available under an alternative open model

AMSTERDAM, SYMBIAN EXCHANGE & EXPOSITION (SEE), NOVEMBER 8, 2010 – Following a strategy review, the board of the Symbian Foundation has today decided to transition the role of the non-profit organisation. The foundation will become a legal entity responsible for licensing software and other intellectual property, such as the Symbian trademark. Nokia has committed to make the future development of the Symbian platform available to the ecosystem via an alternative direct and open model.

"The founding board members took a bold strategic step in setting up the foundation, which was absolutely the right decision at the time," says Tim Holbrow, executive director, Symbian Foundation. "There has since been a seismic change in the mobile market but also more generally in the economy, which has led to a change in focus for some of our funding board members. The result of this is that the current governance structure for the Symbian platform – the foundation – is no longer appropriate.

"However, the platform enjoys strong support from some of the largest and most innovative device creators in the world. And we continue to see solid momentum behind the platform, with 25 percent of all Symbian-based devices shipping in the last 12 months.*

"I'm immensely proud of the work we've done at the Symbian Foundation. Perhaps most notably, in the last year we've delivered the biggest open source project ever in releasing the entire Symbian codebase under an open source license, and we did it four months ahead of schedule."

The first phase of the foundation's transition will involve a reduction in operations and staff numbers. By April 2011, the Symbian Foundation will be governed by a group of non-executive directors tasked with overseeing the organisation's licensing function.

"Nokia remains committed to Symbian as the most used smartphone platform around the world," said Jo Harlow, senior vice president, Smartphones, Nokia. "The Nokia N8 generated the highest online pre-orders we've ever experienced and we have a family of Symbian^3 smartphones including the Nokia N8, Nokia C7, and Nokia C6-01 which are available now, as well as the Nokia E7 which is expected to ship before the end of 2010. Nokia expects to sell more than 50 million Symbian^3 smartphones."

The Symbian Foundation leadership team will work together with Nokia to ensure that the reduction in operations of the foundation will bring as little disruption to the ecosystem as possible. Further details of this process will be shared at a later date.

Today's announcement does not affect the Symbian Exchange & Exposition (SEE 2010), which will commence on November 9th in Amsterdam. SEE 2010 will bring together attendees from over 55 countries to engage, exchange and explore opportunities offered by the Symbian platform. For more information about the event, visit

- Ends –

* Total number of Symbian-based devices shipped by Q3 2010 is more than 400 million, 100 million of which shipped between Q3 2009 and Q3 2010. (Canalys and historic Symbian figures)