Symbian: Android for the rest of us?

Nokia’s announcement this morning that it is acquiring the rest of the Symbian mobile operating system it doesn’t already own (about 52 per cent) and turning it into an open-source OS that anyone can contribute to and use seems like an arrow aimed straight at the heart of Android, the Google mobile effort that is still in its infancy but promises great things. Nokia is clearly threatened by the giant Web company’s plans, and has been bulking up in all sorts of ways.

Despite Google’s geek cred and the iPhone’s cool factor and the BlackBerry’s popularity in the corporate market, Symbian is still by far the biggest mobile player. It would be unwise to count the company out as a competitive threat — not because it’s going to create something as cool as the iPhone or as useful as the BlackBerry, but because having something like 200 million handsets out there running your operating system is a powerful force, and it is going to draw developers in just because of its sheer mass and size.

Imagine what might happen if Microsoft went open source — this is kind of like that, but for the mobile market. Of course, Google likely saw this coming (or at least it should have).

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