Nokia closes its Symbian acquisition, seeding an open source foundation

Mobile phone maker Nokia today took a big step toward establishing the open source Symbian Foundation, a group that will enhance the Symbian OS to compete with Android and other mobile OS.

In announcing today that it's closed a deal to buy Symbian Ltd, mobile phone maker Nokia called the completion of the acquisition a "fundamental step" in creating the Symbian Foundation, a multi-vendor group that will bolster the Symbian OS to take on Android and the LiMo Foundation's emerging OS as a mobile open source environment.

Beyond Nokia, the foundation has members that include wireless carriers AT&T, Vodafone, and Japanese-based NTT DoCoMo, in addition to phone and chip makers such as Motorola, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, and Texas Instruments.

The group plans to fuse together the three disparate user interface layers of the Symbian OS -- UIQ, NTT DoCoMo's MOAP, and Nokia's own S60 -- into a common framework.

"The platform will offer the means to build a complete mobile device while providing the tools to differentiate devices through tailoring of the user experience, applications and services. This will enable device manufacturers to create unique devices, based on a consistent and common platform, providing fuel and scale for the innovation of others," according to a Foundation white paper.

The new framework -- coupled with the underlying, upgraded Symbian OS -- will then be licensed to the open source community under the Eclipse Public License (EPL).

Now that the deal is done, with Nokia taking 99.9 percent ownership of the total Symbian shares it didn't already own, all current employees of Symbian Ltd. are slated to become Nokia employees on February 1 of next year.

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