updated 02:45 pm EDT, Tue November 2, 2010
Symbian gets 31m European rescue in project form
Symbian today said it had received a major cash influx from the European Commission as part of a continent-wide project. The Artemis Joint Technology Initiative has given the mobile OS developer 22 million euros ($30.8 million) to develop the SYMBEOSE consortium, or Symbian -- the Embedded Operating System for Europe. The group should streamline creating Symbian devices and giving them "new core platform capabilities," such as cloud computing and multi-core processing.
About 24 companies are involved in the group and include carriers, electronics companies, integrators and phone-focused designers. Projects will be broken up into smaller teams and will all be open-source.
The motivation for the sudden project wasn't directly stated, but the money came just as leaks were beginning to emerge of serious financial trouble at Symbian that could have led to its collapse. It faced the sudden departure of its leader just last month and has been rumored on the verge of shutting down as its CFO may have taken over only to wind things down. Officials haven't confirmed the motivations, though executive director Lee Williams publicly explained it as "personal reasons."
The organization has seen a rash of both official and unofficial defections from its member ranks as companies have given up on using the Symbian platform for their devices. Sony Ericsson has no plans to support Symbian after the Vivaz series leaves shelves, and Samsung is formally qutting development at the end of 2010. Only Nokia remains as a major supporter of Symbian, but it's partly switching away on its own as its high-end Nseries phones and its tablets will use the new MeeGo platform instead.
Symbian has faced criticism for being slow to adapt to competitors. It added touch support only in late 2008, a year and half after Apple and HTC had begun popularizing touchscreen smartphones, and only brought in multi-touch and simplified phone settings earlier this year with the launch of Symbian^3 phones like the N8.