The Symbian and Google-backed Android mobile operating systems (OS) could be merged within the next six months to create a single open-source platform, an industry analyst has predicted. In a research note, Jack Gold of J.Gold Associates said such a move would be “good for Google and good for Symbian” as it will reduce the need for application developers to make products for multiple platforms and provide a compelling reason for business users to deploy mobile open-source. “Having an open-source OS that is adopted by a broad array of device manufacturers allows them to better compete for additional business by allowing sales of games, music, videos, apps and other services even on those devices not manufactured by their own company,” Gold said. “This is the real advantage of endorsing the open-source OS movement – allowing cross device competition.” He added that, if Android and Symbian were merged, other open-source mobile operating initiatives – such as the LiMo Foundation – would also likely join. Such comments echo those of outgoing Vodafone CEO, Arun Sarin, who at the GSMA Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last February called on the mobile industry to reduce the number of handset operating systems in an effort to simplify future development.
Symbian was fully acquired by Nokia last month. At the time it was announced that a Symbian Foundation would be established, incorporating a consortium of companies with the aim of creating an open-source, royalty-free single version of Symbian’s operating systems, currently used on the majority of the world’s smartphones. Although initially seen as a rival to Android, Symbian CEO Nigel Clifford has subsequently hinted that the initiative is open to the idea of collaboration with Android. Many of the same companies in the Symbian Foundation are also members of the mobile Linux-based Open Handset Alliance, the Android-focused consortium. However, recent reports have suggested that the first Android-based handsets have been delayed due to development problems on the new platform.