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Symbian goes open source: A mobile OS for the masses

The Symbian Foundation has made its mobile operating system open source, in an attempt to encourage the development community and compete better with Android

The Symbian Foundation has announced that its mobile operating system will become completely open-source from today.

The newly branded 'Symbian Platform' is available for anyone to muck about with right now on the developer Web site. Symbian will be hoping that making its code open to everyone will encourage more third parties to start developing applications for the platform, whether for mobile phones or any other kind of device.

Still the world's most widely used smart phone OS, Symbian was once the most popular for developers too, but the platform's fortunes have dwindled since the meteoric rise of the iPhone and to a lesser extent Android, which has been open-source from day one. Hopefully making the system open to anyone who fancies a crack at building something amazing -- or more likely, port their amazing iPhone app -- will spark some creativity in the developer community.

Migrating Symbian to an open-source licence is no mean feat. Considering how many different companies have contributed to the platform over the years, all of whom will have to have been negotiated with, the fact that this has been achieved in under two years, and four months earlier than scheduled, is pretty impressive.

The project to make Symbian open was announced back in 2008, the same year Nokia purchased the Symbian software. Although Nokia has helped move the platform towards an open-source future, Lee Williams of the Symbian Foundation told BBC News that it hopes to reduce the mobile phone giant's input to "no more than 50 per cent" by mid-2011.

Symbian is now held under the Eclipse Public License.