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Symbian balances on an Atom

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Some chaps at Symbian with way too much time on their hands have compiled the current version of the OS onto an Intel Atom processor - proving that you don't have to follow the ARM road to Symbian nirvana.

The chaps concerned work for "S60 in Symbian Customer Operations" and did the port to see if it would work, and if anyone would take an interest. The port is to an Atom reference board from Intel, but demonstrates that Symbian could probably run on a netbook if anyone wanted such a thing.

Of course, one could equally well produce a netbook based on an ARM core using Qualcomm's Snapdragon or similar - and Qualcomm has been demonstrating such a thing to anyone who'll listen for the last six months.

But Intel's Atom has better connectivity with standard PCI-based components and is very familiar to netbook designers, not to mention the possibility of creating something that could run Symbian, or Android, or even Windows, depending on customer preference.

End users tend to choose whatever they already know, so leaving the decision up to them means a default victory for Redmond, but resellers such as network operators and retailers could be convinced to use Symbian though an ARM-based device would make the decision easier.

Not that this development is more than a technical demonstration, as Symbian Foundation director Lee Williams puts it on his blog: "It would be most interesting to see what level of interest we can generate in this port, especially if that includes some major business partners willing to come in and invest in the development of a product solution". ®

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