Nokia has ponied up and bought a large chunk of Symbian that they didn’t already own, which equates to another 52%. For those of you unfamiliar with Symbian it is the software platform that powers the Nokia devices, and one analyst estimates that Nokia paid close to $250 million a year in licensing fees for it. While $410 million sounds like a lot you have to look at the money they will be saving due to the acquisition.
What makes the deal really interesting is the fact that Nokia will be open sourcing bits and pieces of the Symbian OS over the next few years, and by that time the entire OS will be open source. Both Sony Ericsson and Motorola have already announced that they will be contributors, which could mean that the development of the Symbian OS will continue at a rapid pace. The newly established Symbian Foundation will serve as a hub for the royalty-free open source project, but an annual membership of $1,500 is required.
It will be interesting to see whether this will become an even more attractive operating system for manufacturers over the upcoming Google Android. Both will now be open source and royalty-free, but will manufacturers choose the less mature Google Android platform? At this point innovation has probably never been more important for Google, and they need to have some selling points to compensate for its lacking in maturity.