Symbian phone software now available for free

Feb 04, 2010 By PETER SVENSSON , AP Technology Writer

(AP) -- The Symbian Foundation says the software that powers the most smart phones in the world is being made largely available for free for anyone to use.

The foundation was set up in 2008 after Nokia Corp., the biggest maker of Symbian phones, bought out the consortium that made the software. Nokia decided to give the software away starting Thursday to make it more popular with other manufacturers, a move not uncommon in the technology world.

Lee Williams, executive director of the London-based foundation, said it has now completed the largest-ever conversion of proprietary software to "open source," which means the source code, or blueprint for the software, is available to anyone. However, software associated with some phone features has yet to be released.

Symbian software is used on more than 330 million phones around the world, the foundation said. It is facing new and vigorous competition in the smart phone arena from Apple Inc.'s and Inc.'s system. Android is also freely available for anyone to use.

Analysts say Symbian, which has more than 10 years of development behind it, is starting to look outdated and has lagged in supporting must-have new features like touch screen. Symbian phones have never been big sellers in the U.S.

The open-source version of the software is known as Symbian 3, and supersedes previous versions like Series 60 and Series 40.

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More information: http://www.symbian.org

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