RealTime IT News

Making a Case for an Android-Symbian Merger

These days, vendors of all stripes want to tout their "openness" to developers. But one analyst thinks two of the bigger players need to take their open platform ambitions a step further and merge.

Jack Gold, who heads J. Gold Associates, posits the inevitability of a merger between Google's Android and Nokia's Symbian mobile operating systems in a report released July 24 titled, "And-rian or Sym-droid?"

Gold conceded in an interview with InternetNews.com that he has no inside knowledge of the companies' plans. "Some of this is speculation, but it's absolutely logical," he said. "If you look at the mobile world today, there are too many operating systems. If you're an application vendor it makes no sense, or is extremely difficult to think about supporting Android, Symbian, Palm, Windows Mobile, the iPhone and so on."

Nokia recently bought the remaining part of Symbian it owned with several other companies and then announced it planned to make the OS open source. Google spearheaded the Open Handset Alliance of companies, which is formulating an open source software stack, including OS, for mobile devices.

Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) has shown prototype devices based on Android at a few select trade shows and the first finished ones from its partners are due to start appearing by the end of this year.

"We expect that within the next 3-6 months, Symbian and Android will combine to provide a single Open Source OS. Many of the same sponsors are involved in both initiatives," Gold wrote.

"Google doesn't comment on market rumors or speculations," the search giant said in a statement e-mailed to InternetNews.com.

Symbian also declined an interview on the topic, but e-mailed a more detailed response:

"Per our longstanding company policy, we do not comment on market rumors. What we can say is that the new Symbian Foundation will provide a platform formed from Symbian OS and S60 with UIQ and MOAP(S) technologies integrated, available separately under the foundation’s royalty-free license. This is expected to take place in the first half of 2009. There are no further plans to integrate other technologies. As a truly open initiative, Google and any party willing to access and or make a contribution to the foundation is welcome to do so and can sign up at www.symbianfoundation.org."

Next page: The technical challenge