The Symbian platform is open source software based on Symbian OS, the most widely used open operating system for mobile phones. The OS has been integrated with software assets contributed by Nokia, NTT DOCOMO, and Sony Ericsson, including the S60 and MOAP(S) user interfaces. The Symbian foundation unifies Symbian OS, S60, UIQ and MOAP(S) software, creating an unparalleled open software platform for converged mobile devices, and enabling accelerated innovation across the whole mobile ecosystem.


Portions of the source code are already being moved to open source, under the Eclipse Public License. By mid-2010, this process will be complete. At this point, the complete source code will be available to all – members and non-members, enthusiasts, Web designers, professional developers, service providers and device manufacturers. Until this time, members of the Symbian Foundation have access, under a royalty-free Symbian Foundation License, to the portions of the code that are not yet open source.[1]

Eclipse Public License (EPL) is a more business friendly version of GPL. More details can be found at

Sponsorship and Financial

Symbian platform is managed by the Symbian Foundation, which is run by a group of companies in the mobile space. The Symbian Foundation is a non-profit organisation, founded by Nokia, Motorola, Sony Ericsson, NTT DoCoMo, Texas Instruments, Vodafone, Samsung, LG & AT&T.


Symbian has a very active community known as Symbian Developer Network. Vast amounts of documentation and sample applications can be found here. Numerous books have been published on Symbian. Formed in 2001, the Symbian Press imprint is a partnership between Symbian and international publisher John Wiley & Sons. The books published by Symbian Press communicate authoritative, timely, relevant and practical information about Symbian OS and related technologies.

Market Penetration

Symbian is the number one open OS in the mobile space. From high-end to high-volume market, Symbian OS is the proven platform for a broad range of users and form factors. Symbian OS is used by over 200 million users worldwide[2].

Devices based on software available in the Symbian platform are already supported by more than 250 mobile service providers worldwide. To date, the following ten operators have endorsed the Symbian Foundation[1]:

  • 3
  • America Movil
  • AT&T
  • KTF
  • Orange
  • NTT DoCoMo
  • SoftBank
  • T-Mobile
  • TIM
  • Vodafone

Any manufacturer can join the Symbian Foundation and receive the platform, so we expect the number of manufacturers making devices based on the Symbian platform to grow. To date, the following seven device manufacturers have committed to the platform[1]:

  • Fujitsu
  • Huawei
  • Nokia
  • Samsung Electronics
  • Sharp
  • Sony Ericsson
  • LG Electronics

Support and Infrastructure

Nokia, Sony-Ericsson and Samsung already have or are in the process of starting application stores for Symbian. Symbian foundation has also announced plans to make a free application warehouse containing several stores for Symbian.

Support for Symbian is available through the Symbian Developer Network and through a variety of community forums like Forum Nokia, MOTODEV and Sony Ericsson Developer World.

Plenty of developer tools are available for Symbian. Carbide.C++, GCC for Symbian and Klocwork Enterprise Developer Suite are a few examples. A more complete list can be found in the Symbian Developer Network.


Symbian OS evolved from the EPOC operating systems developed by Psion in the 80's. With close to 3 decades of evolution, Symbian OS has developed into a mature OS[3]. Moreover, Symbian platform uses a well controlled incremental development approach to make new releases. This also helps in ensuring the stability of new releases[4].


Software written for Symbian platform can run only on Symbian. However, Symbian platform being the most widely deployed platform in the mobile world, there is no dearth of handsets that run on Symbian.

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