European Commission grant offers Symbian a boost

Symbian will lead a consortium of 24 organisations that will have a €22 million research budget

The Symbian Foundation, which recently lost its respected executive director and the backing of two major phone makers, is getting a much-needed boost through a European Commission-sponsored project.

The foundation will lead a group of 24 European technology organisations, including phone makers, operators, application developers and universities, in a consortium called SYMBEOSE, which stands for Symbian -- the Embedded Operating System for Europe.

"The precise aim of the SYMBEOSE consortium is to instigate a series of state-of-the-art development projects that will create new opportunities for Symbian's global stakeholders," a Symbian technology manager going by the name RichardC wrote in a post on Symbian's blog.

Consortium members, who have not been named, have committed €11 million ($US15.3 million) to the project. The Europe-backed Artemis Joint Technology Initiative agreed to contribute another €11 million.

The money doesn't actually directly benefit the Symbian Foundation, RichardC wrote in the comments after the blog post in response to some reports that said the investment was being made into the foundation.

"To be clear, the money isn't going to the Symbian Foundation itself. It will be wholly invested in future development projects for the Symbian platform," he wrote.

The consortium will work on a number of projects, including one designed to improve Symbian's power efficiency. Another will focus on improving the way that mobile phones consume cloud-based services. The group will also research ways that Symbian can operate in a variety of new types of hardware.

While Symbian is still the number-one mobile-phone operating system in the world, it is struggling to stay competitive with new operating systems from Apple and Google. Samsung and Sony Ericsson, the only other major handset makers besides Nokia that supported the platform, now say they won't build any Symbian phones. In October, Lee Williams, Symbian Foundation's executive director and a longtime public face for Symbian, left the organisation.

Nancy Gohring covers mobile phones and cloud computing for The IDG News Service. Follow Nancy on Twitter at @idgnancy. Nancy's e-mail address is Nancy_Gohring@idg.com

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