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Symbian rubbishes 'rebranding' reports

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Surreal reports suggesting that the Symbian brand is dead - to be "replaced" by Symbeose - are rubbish, says the Symbian Foundation.

There's also much confusion about exactly what the new European-funded embedded consortium - called Symbeose - will do, and the Foundation's role in it. So what exactly is going on?

Richard Collins at the Foundation told us that the Symbeose consortium is a new group, designed to carry out new embedded Symbian projects and put them in the public domain. The taxpayers' contribution is €11m - not €22m - and must be matched by consortium members. The Foundation will receive just a €1.4m chunk of this over three years.

"Our responsibility is that people have stakeholding in Symbian and are not just taking handouts," says Collins. The Foundation will be responsible for managing the direction of the projects, ensuring the contributions are open-sourced, hosting the code, and integrating it for platform release.

"The EC believes in Symbian as a Euro-centric technology that is strategic for the future. It's in a much more competitive position than it was when it first started. The EC bought into the idea that Symbian was the start of the smartphone revolution, and is keen to see that continue," he says.

OK. But with Nokia spending a fortune on Symbian - it employs 4,000 engineers even after the latest cuts - there's little sign that public subsidies are required.

Collins' reply is twofold. Not all the Symbian work that Nokia does is open source, relating to its own products and services. "They're not investing in open source, they're investing it for Nokia. Where Nokia invests in Symbian it's not open source," he says.

And secondly, the EU wants a Europe-wide embedded systems software resource, which isn't Nokia's goal. So it's stepped in to ensure it. For example, "evolving existing tools to make it easier to use Symbian at beginning of manufacturing process" is something that a private company might not share. There are seven broad areas of work. The first chunk of money comes through next year.

There isn't a "Symbeose" website, and we're told not to expect one just yet. ®

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