Symbian, though always touting their open development concept, has been notoriously slow in providing a truly open source version of its mobile OS to developers. That’s all changed, with Symbian’s announcement that they’ve finally released a fully open source version of its widely used OS, and it’s available now.
Symbian has always deemed themselves an open source mobile OS, but to access the so-called “open” source code, you had to pay for membership into the Symbian Foundation. This has long been off-putting to developers used to the truly open source environment surrounding other open source projects- mainly the Android OS, where developers can do just about anything they want to customize it.
The new source code was released under an Eclipse Public License (EPL), which is similar to a General Public License (GPU), except it includes a few provision protecting Symbian’s patents and copyrights. It still provides developers with unbridled freedom to modify the code as they see fit, while protecting IP that Symbian has honed so diligently over the years.
It’s obvious that Symbian sees the light that Android is shining in terms of the potential a fully open-sourced mobile OS can provide, and Symbian isn’t going to sit idle while Android enjoys the spotlight. While Symbian revels in obscurity in the US, it’s still the most widely used and accepted mobile OS worldwide. Symbian will undoubtedly use its position to take on Android, which is growing rapidly at the expense of Symbian and other so-called legacy OSs.
It should be interesting to see what happens from a development standpoint, and whether the “open-sourcing” of it’s code is relegated to being too little too soon for Symbian.