Don't expect Symbian to lead an open source revolution

After all, Apple and RIM have succeeded without open source

Now that Symbian has fully opened its source code to the public, will it lead to an avalanche of mobile operating systems opening up their codes as well?

After all, Symbian and Google's Android mobile operating system offer application developers and device manufacturers free operating systems for their products. Will this put pressure on other operating systems to open up their source codes to stay relevant?

The answer is, "Not likely." As ABI Research analyst Kevin Burden has noted, two of the most widely used mobile systems in the world - Apple and Research in Motion's BlackBerry - are wholly managed from within by their owners. In other words, Apple and RIM have found tremendous success with their operating systems despite the fact that they're the only device manufacturers that use them.

"The device manufacturers who have made the biggest strides in the market are the ones who own the whole solution, from the hardware to the platform to the application stores," he says. "I don't think we'll see Apple or Palm try to reverse that anytime soon."

And although Symbian is already the most widely used mobile operating system in the world, its decision to open up its source code is more likely an attempt to push back a challenge from Android than to undercut the proprietary mobile operating systems such as iPhone and BlackBerry. Android is projected to become the second-most used mobile operating system behind Symbian by the end of 2012.

IDC analyst John Delaney says that Symbian's decision to open up its source code is only one part of its effort to forge better relationships with developers that have been heavily courted by Apple and Google in recent years. And in any case, he says that Symbian's bigger draw for developers is the sheer number of users it has and not the fact that it now has an open source code.

"What developers want at the end of the day is to make money," he notes. "And that is directly related to the number of users a platform has."

So looking toward the future, it seems we can expect a mix of open source platforms and proprietary platforms, especially since both Apple and RIM have shown they can be successful without relying on third parties to develop and sell devices with their operating systems. Indeed, as Burden notes, RIM still has room to grow with its BlackBerry platform as it will start really targeting the Asian market over the next few years.

"RIM has got a lot more space to grow because they're only now getting into many parts of Asia," he says. "I don't think we've gotten to point yet where proprietary platform providers are talking about changing their strategies."

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags smartphoneopen sourcesymbian

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Brad Reed

Network World
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?