Here’s what has happened, in a nutshell. Symbian over the past year has transitioned to being an open source foundation. However, in the process, it lost supporters such as Sony Ericsson. Nokia relies on Symbian to provide for their high-end handsets, as the company is building MeeGo to replace Symbian on the high end. Nokia will continue to use Symbian for mid-range, and eventually, low-end devices.
What happened today, was that the Symbian Foundation (at their developer conference) announced that they had received €22 million in funding, backed partly from the EU and partly from companies including Nokia. Nokia is continuing to back Symbian development, but is seeking support to make the platform viable beyond Nokia devices.
The SYMBEOSE consortium is a new foundation that will work alongside the Symbian Foundation. It will allow Nokia and other investors to guide platform development, and ensure that the €22 million in investments goes to goals that improve Symbian for their use first. In other words, it gives Nokia a lot of steering power that they lost when they spun Symbian Foundation off. SYMBEOSE as it stands will consist of 23 companies that will steer development.
The Symbian platform continues to struggle, however. Nokia has made confusing announcements that future Nokia devices will receive seamless Symbian updates, the company is confusing users on when support will begin and end in a device lifecycle. Worse, the platform’s main issues remain. There is no integration with key services such as WebKit, which Nokia stopped checking in changes to. Rumors of Nokia switching to Qt’s build of WebKit were not met with follow-through from Symbian Foundation.
As such, Symbian remains a platform without clear versions landing on devices, and remains in various states of decay. The Symbian Foundation has, to its part, admitted to much of this and hopes to use the cash infusion to rebuild the struggling platform, as well as gain device support from manufacturers.