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June 26, 2008

Symbian Foundation: answering the questions

LONDON, England – We’re still blown away by Tuesday’s events, so much
so that we almost forgot about the notes we took during the Q&A at the launch.
Fear not dear brethren, as they’ve been resurrected and the choice cuts
revealed here for your delight.

In short, the best bits from the launch
where the key players in the Foundation got to respond to some pretty
tough questions from the gathered hacks.

Inevitably, the first round of questions centred on whether the setting up of the open source Symbian platform was a response to the Google’s Android OS? Executive Vice President of Nokia, Kai Öistämö’s  riposte was swift and to the point:

“This is not a response. This is a market-making move. Looking at this as a response to something doesn’t put any justice on the magnitude of what we’re doing here. It really has an unparalleled eco-system and putting it into an open source community that isn’t owned by any existing company means no service developer could pass up this opportunity.”

Mats Lindoff, CTO of Sony Ericsson and fellow Foundation comrade-in-arms, backed up Kai saying,

“This is an unparalleled change. This has been discussed in the Symbian world for sometime. We have been discussing it for months.”

However, the Android thread just wouldn’t go away but at least Kai was allowed to speak of Symbian’s advantages over Google’s platform. His answer when asked what Symbian has that Android doesn’t…

“200 million users, a platform that’s been in development for 10 years and that runs on a number of different chipsets.”

The fact that the new Symbian platform is royalty free and open to developers also got the journalist asking what was wrong with the system that they now have to give it up for free. Kai took the podium again…

“In the past developers have had to think about which UI to develop for, we’ve had to think about it, chipsets have had to think about it. We’re throwing all that away to create a very broad ecosystem. It’s looking at the opportunity for the future. What do consumers want? They want more stuff quickly. We want to remove the friction from this. One of the challenges an operator faces is the fragmentation of the platform. This move is going to streamline the experience for the user. The platform has been very successful. It is the right time to move away from an OEM led approach to an industry led approach.”

So what’s going to happen to Symbian, once it becomes part of Nokia, and what of the hierarchy within the Foundation, given that Nokia is going to be a major contributor giving up as it is S60. Firstly, Kai was quick to point out that “Symbian employees will become Nokia employees” and “during the course of the next six months we will plan what we do with geographic sites, what assets we’ll optimise for and work out what talent we’ll have.” And of the Foundation Kai simply said

“We will probably be the biggest contributor to the foundation, but remember this is a non-profit open foundation. Add value and create new goals”

So there you have it. What do you think?

Photo by hiddedevries