Symbian against Open Source (Google Android)

Having an Open Source Operating System for mobiles might seem a challenge for Symbian…or maybe not.You could compare it to Windows and Linux (and its distributions). Windows isn’t Open Source but got a hefty advantage over Linux, Linux is mainly used in hosting servers and research centres, and not that much in homes. We could blame this on the distributors not having done enough publicity and not making Linux easy enough. This will not be the case of Google Android, which is basically another Linux distribution. They have won the hearts of more than 40 companies such as HTC, and also many developers thanks to their 10 million Dollars prize contest.

For developers it might seem a dream come true, but I don’t think it’s that good. What many people are expecting is an Operating System that can be moulded easily but these people are forgetting what Open Source really means. It means to have a public source code. This doesn’t mean we can grab Google Android, remove unwanted code and personalize it. Unless Google actually comes out with a “NSU” type of program with self-uploadable firmwares, and also a SDK that allows full customization, this won’t be possible.



The advantage of public source codes is that you get access to every API and other code, from which you can then design any program to replace something that the OS itself already does, and that also if there isn’t any limitation, in case of virus protection, etc.



Better than nothing? I don’t think so. If Google doesn’t release a fully editable Operating System, the Android is as good as Symbian.


If you consider Nokia and S60, they are very software orientated. For example: On the Nokia N95, the accelerometer API wasn’t released, but when programmers requested it, it was made public. If you are having access to APIs and internal code from Symbian, what is the big advantage on Google Android? Of course Nokia doesn’t give away 10 million Dollars to programmers, but they are coming up with ideas, prizes, contests and good support from the extremely helpful Forum Nokia.


To some programmers it might not make a difference to have a little bit more code to play around with. But with some hardcore developers might enjoy full interactivity. In the end, the end-user is the one who counts, because most cellphone buyers aren’t programmers, and for these, they might just stick with the brand they like, and here hardware will be the most important, having a 400MHz powered HTC or a 5 megapixel N95? Will Symbian react to Google? Will developers switch to Linux platform?



You might call me biased to one side, and I am a Nokia fan, I won’t lie, but I really can’t see much coming from Google. I do want to see improvements in future mobile phones and I am excited to try out new things.


Please do discuss your views or points with me.






Source: PhoneReport


~ by Meraj Chhaya on January 23, 2008.

7 Responses to “Symbian against Open Source (Google Android)”

  1. Why there are so much nioise around accelerometer API? As to me accelerometer is a rather simple device which gives access to only three parameters – acceleration vector projections on XYZ axies.

    I see almost only key function in this API, something like GetAcceleration(X* double, Y* double, Z* double) or something. Or maybe an event when parameters change.

  2. accelerometer allows motion control, and that is new to the Symbian world…

  3. S60 is not a good OS. It even does not allow to copy and paste text from every text field to every text field. And that’s a function of the OS (“windows manager”).
    And there is no security in the S60 OS. You can break in every S60 phone, when the bluetooth connection is activated. It’s great.
    I am owner of the Nokia E60 and I was enthusiastic, when I have read the specifications. But now I use it, only as an normal mobile phone. Sometimes nobody can call me over the gsm net, because the WLAN connection crashes. Great. It’s not a stable mobile phone.
    If the S60 OS were open source, someone (me) would have corrected many errors. (Even birthdays aren’t shown in the calender!!! And I don’t want to use MS Office). And It’s part of the OS, you cannot correct it, it’s closed source.
    Now am waiting for a android mobile phone.

  4. I don’t agree with you so much. Early firmware issues will forever exist. Just because Android is Open Source it doesn’t mean you can fully edit it or change its actions.
    Update your E60 firmware and you might see many changes

  5. It is the newest available firmware version. I am waiting for a new one, since a year now. I have checked two month ago for a new one.
    On such a big open source project, there are working companies and not only one. You can already download the kernel and the sdk of android. The license is gpl. There is no source for the android api now, but it is all written in java. If google decides not to publish the source, I can use one of the decompiler for android java bytecode and change everything I want. The API documentation is already available.
    I think open source project have more possibilities and capacity, because many people and company are working on the same project. And many of them want a good product. I think the future is open source, and you can mainly make money with hardware and support.

  6. Not just with hardware but with Google Ads as well, and I believe that is what we will see on Android.
    Now you are a programmer so you will naturally go for Open Source. Do you believe regular people will do the same?

  7. There are many people who cracks theirs iPhone and install non official software. And they are not programmers.
    Nokia buyed Trolltech, the company which developed Qtopia Phone Edition and QT (KDE). It’s another windows/widgets framework for linux kernel based systems. It’s a similar way. But QTopia is available under open source licenses and commercial licenses.

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