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Android & Symbian: Robot Rumble

enemy-of-the-botAwwww sooky sooky it is ON! After yesterday’s coverage of AT&T CEO dissing the claimed “openness” of Android, commenters retorted that De La Vega (the CEO) obviously didn’t understand Android. While AT&T can be seen more as a neutral force on the Android issue, Symbian Foundation director Lee Williams just outed himself as Enemy Of The Bot:

“Android is not open,” he told silicon.com. “It’s a marketing label. It’s controlled by Google.” … “It’s a pretty label but I don’t think the use of Linux is synonymous with open and they may have made that mistake of assuming it is,” he added.

Them be fightin’ words! But the response of Rich Miner, Google’s VP of Mobile, made the Symbian comment seem more like laughing words:

“If you’re talking about a platform and the source code isn’t completely available for that platform, I would say it’s misleading to call that platform open,” he said at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) trade show last week. “Because that platform can’t be adapted, changed and shaped by the people who are consuming that platform – the handset OEMs or the carriers. I’d say that if you need to join some sort of a club in order to get access to the source code – so membership in some consortium or some other group – then it really truly isn’t open.”

To be in the exclusive Symbian Foundation you:

  1. Have to be a business entity
  2. Have to pay $1,500

In all fairness, neither Android or Symbian is completely open here but to take swipes at Android which has made an effort to be as open as possible when you’re charging $1,500 for openness seems quite pitiful. Seeing that an Open Source Symbian platform won’t launch for a couple years, I think its fair to say that they’re resorting to name calling and pointing fingers. And when you do that… you’ve become suspicious because it seems like even you know you’re about to lose the fight.

Its interesting how this sudden push towards openness was supposed to unite the industry in moving forward and now  you have Android, iPhone, BlackBerry, WinMo, WebOS and Symbian all promising degrees of openness that will be better than competitors degress of openness.

I think we’re moving in the right direction but the competitive bitterness has only seemed to escalate. Perhaps that’s because Symbian’s stronghold on the world mobile operating system market is rapidly loosening and their competing open source platform won’t help them regain their grip anytime soon.

[Silicon.com via IntoMobile]




  • jake

    I find it very funny how multi-billion dollar companies are just as sad and pathetic as a ten year old,
    “But Moooom he’s lying!”

  • Phil

    The Symbian guy had no basis for his comments. Open source means just that….open source. If you can go in and look at the source then its open…case closed. What he may have wanted to talk about was licensing (which still isn’t a problem) or the process of getting changes into the Google trunk. However if you don’t like the direction Google is taking then you can take the code and roll your own version. Thats all Linux distros are. Ubuntu rolls their own Debian. Mint rolls their own Ubuntu and so on.

  • Nik

    Symbian have one massive problem and it is not related to it’s (lack of) openness. It is completely useless.

    Having recently liberated myself from an N95 by moving to the G1, I can only say that the guys behind Symbian need to completely rewrite the OS or they risk being left behind. It is slow, regularly crashes and it is nigh on impossible to write code for it.

    Android, on the other hand, is stable, fast and imcredibly easy to work with. The sheer number of useful apps available for each platform should be an indicator of their relative strengths.

    Bye, bye Symbian – and don’t think you can add an extra layer on top of the already cumbersome S60 v3 to give it touch screen capability.