Symbian completes move to open source

The Symbian Foundation has finally gone all the way and made the world’s most popular cellphone operating system open source.

More than a year after announcing its plans, the Nokia-owned, non-profit group has opened up the platform to anybody for any purpose with the launch of Symbian 3. The announcement comes four months ahead of schedule, says the foundation.

The source code was previously only available to members of the organisation.

More than 330 million phones are based on Symbian, making it the most popular platform in the world. But with increasing competition from Google’s Android – also open source – and Apple’s iPhone OS – emphatically not – its market share has been declining. It’s never really taken off in the US.

The move should help attract new developers and speed up the pace of improvements. “Developers everywhere will want to study Symbian, to hack on it, and to write applications for it. The day of truly free telephony is about to dawn,” said Eben Moglen, founding director of the Software Freedom Law Center.

The source code will be available from today at the Symbian website.

Version 3 handsets are expected to start appearing towards the end of this year. The new version includes support for HDMI output, improved memory management and a new graphics architecture.

“We believe this will create new innovation on the platform and bring additional benefits to consumers,” said Patrik Olsson, head of software at Sony Ericsson.