European Commission invests $31 million in Symbian Foundation
The Artemis Joint Technology Initiative, a public-private partnership bringing together the European Commission, member states and industrial association Artemisia, will invest €22 million ($30.8 million U.S.) into the struggling Symbian Foundation, the nonprofit initiative charged with overseeing the Symbian smartphone platform. Identifying the Symbian platform as a technology vital to the growth of Euro-centric mobile software development, the Artemis JTI will fund the launch of the Symberose consortium--short for "Symbian--the Embedded Operating System for Europe," the initiative will be led by the Symbian Foundation and brings together 24 organizations from eight European countries, spanning mobile device manufacturers, hardware and service integration service providers, consumer electronics companies, mobile network operators, application developers, universities and research institutions.
"Broadly speaking, the proposed advances to the Symbian platform will focus on radically improving the basis for new device creation on Symbian," writes Symbian Foundation technology manager Richard Collins on the organization's blog. "Additional work will concentrate on a set of core platform enablers that will support the types of mobile services that will be most prevalent in the near future." Collins adds the Symberose initiative will emphasize concepts like cloud computing and multi-core processing. "A further key development area to be addressed relates to future mobile platforms and embedded devices," Collins states. "New opportunities will arise from the principle that all mobile, Internet-connected devices share a number of common requirements on their underlying software system. The Symbian platform is in a strong position to benefit in this emerging world of embedded devices by supporting new types of hardware."
The investment follows recent news the Symbian Foundation would be forced to wind down operations in the face of recent member defections and declining funds. Citing sources close to the organization, The Register reported late last month that Tim Holbrow--named executive director following the sudden resignation of longtime head Lee Williams--has been asked to shutter operations over the next six months, with Foundation employees receiving redundancy package offers. The Symbian Foundation would not confirm or deny those reports, but stated its board is reviewing strategy. "The future business strategy for the Symbian Foundation is still under review by the board," the group said in late October. "As no decisions have been made, we will not be offering further comment."
Symbian retains its crown as the leading smartphone OS worldwide, controlling 41.2 percent of the global market according to data published in mid-August by research firm Gartner. It was just a year ago that Symbian-based devices represented 51 percent of the market, however--faced with mounting competition from Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS and Google's Android, the platform has struggled to attract both consumer and developer interest. In recent weeks, both Sony Ericsson and Samsung Electronics have stated they will longer manufacture Symbian-based devices. Nokia (NYSE:NOK), Symbian's largest remaining handset advocate, has said it will embrace the Qt cross-platform development environment as its sole application creation framework--moving forward, developers who build apps in Qt will be able to deploy their software across devices running both the Symbian and MeeGo operating systems.
For more on the Symbian Foundation investment:
- read this Symbian Blog entry
Symbian Foundation facing extinction as funding dwindles
Lee Williams resigns as Symbian Foundation director
Samsung, Sony Ericsson dump Symbian
Symbian targets web developers with new mobile app tools