There have been so many open source initiatives for mobile phones in recent years it’s not even funny (limo, openmoko, Android to name some of the possibly biggest ones). The amount of actual phones on the market using one of them have been very very limited. Apparently there are some Motorola phones running Linux and you can get the Linux-based Nokia N800 tablets but they’re not even phones!
Obviously something has happened in the market though. Perhaps all those initiatives have pushed the big ones into thinking in more open source ways. The most interesting part of today’s news about Nokia buying the entire Symbian is their stated intension to open source it. (they’ve even already chosen the Eclipse Public License for it). It’ll be intereseting to see if there’s any interesting synergies coming up from Nokia’s previous purchase of Trolltech.
Of course, even Symbian has but a small fraction of the entire phone market as they sold 18.5 millions units in Q1 2008. IDC says 291 million phones were sold in the world during Q1 2008, which thus should position Symbian on roughly 6% of the phones that are sold today in the world!
I’m also curious if this will mean that Nokia will use Symbian on a larger scale on their own phones, as currently they seem to use Symbian only on a very small portion of their high-end phones. With Nokia owning the whole thing, they might see a bigger motivation to consolidate their own use of operating systems.