Qualcomm, HP among new Symbian partners

Hewlett-Packard, News Corp.'s MySpace.com division, Bank of America and even Nokia rival Qualcomm have joined the foundation that was formed last year to shepherd the new open-source version of the Symbian mobile operating system.

The companies are among 14 Symbian Foundation members newly announced on Wednesday, bringing the group's membership to 78. The Symbian Foundation played up industry support for its emerging operating system in advance of the Mobile World Congress taking place in Barcelona next week.

Nokia, which uses Symbian-based software on most of its devices, last year bought out the joint venture that develops the OS and said it would form a foundation to eventually make the software open-source. The open-source platform is expected to come out by June 2010. Nokia's bold move came after the mobile software world was jolted by the success of Apple's iPhone and other developments. Google's open-source Android OS is emerging as a competitor to Symbian, joining Windows Mobile, BlackBerry, and Palm's recently announced Linux-based webOS.

Qualcomm may be a key player for the foundation to bring on board. Although some Qualcomm chipsets have gone into Symbian devices, the San Diego-based mobile technology company engaged in a years-long feud with Nokia over 3G (third-generation) patent licenses. Also on Thursday, Qualcomm announced the Mobile Station Modem (MSM) 7227 chipset, which the company said will be able to run all leading mobile OSes, including Symbian. The chipset is designed for mass-market smartphones priced below US$150 and is expected to be available later this year.

Other new Symbian Foundation members include GPS (Global Positioning System) vendor SiRF Technology, memory card giant SanDisk, mobile Wi-Fi vendor Nanoradio, and mobile embedded software developer Omron Software.

However, membership in the Symbian Foundation doesn't mean companies have spurned other operating systems. Among the new members, Qualcomm, SiRF and Omron each also belong to the Open Handset Alliance, the industry group formed to support the Android platform.

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