Infoworld is reporting that Nokia is buying the remaining ~52% share of Symbian. Nokia plans to offer the Symbian operating system royalty-free and open sourcing some portion of the code over the next two years. Nokia likely hopes that offering Symbian royalty free will bolster the use of Symbian across handset providers and related parties. Also, from a bean counter standpoint, Nokia paid over $250MM in Symbian license fees last year, so paying $410M for the remaining share makes business sense.
The press release states that:
“Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Motorola, NTT DoCoMo, AT&T, LG Electronics, Samsung Electronics, STMicroelectronics, Texas Instruments, and Vodafone Group. All will get access to the Symbian operating system under a royalty-free license.”
So these vendors and anyone else will get Symbian royalty free, but will they continue to use it?
But what is the alternative? Sure we have the Google-led Android platform, LiMo and Windows Mobile. But millions of Symbian-based phones have been deployed for years already. So even if vendors start to experiment with Android for one or two phones in their portfolio, it’s pretty risky to bet the whole product portfolio on Android being successful, or more successful than Symbian.
Since several of the vendors listed as Symbian members are also participating in Android, will this news from Nokia pose another hurdle to Android’s ultimate success? Especially if Nokia can get the code fully open sourced faster than 2 years? Part of me even thinks that a royalty free (but not open) Symbian operating system by itself will put a dent in Android’s ultimate success.
What do you think?