After giving the impression that it had entered a fatal nosedive, the Symbian Foundation has been 'rescued' with a surprise move by the European Commission and an industry consortium with a shared offer of €22 million of funding for the Symbian OS.
The EC made this decision after the Symbian OS had been endorsed by the Artemis Joint Technology Initiative (JTI)--a scheme sponsored by the EC--as a unique technology that was a vital focus for European-centric mobile software development.
The €22 million backing will go towards the development of next generation technologies for Symbian under a clumsily named project called Symbeose, meaning 'Symbian-the Embedded Operating System for Europe'. This is despite the fact that Nokia, along with several Japanese handset makers, are now the only vendors actively supporting the Symbian OS.
In addition to looking at potential improvements to the core OS, Symbeose will also explore the potential in non-phone devices, an area from which Nokia has largely backed away, favouring the more web-centric MeeGo OS for emerging form factors like tablets.
Symbeose, which the Symbian Foundation is not a part of, will fall under the auspices of the EU's JTI, which will provide around half of the total €22 million funding.
The overall development project is being led by Symbian as part of a consortium of 24 leading European technology organisations from eight European countries--which will provide the other 50 per cent of the funding. No company names have been provided other than that they include major mobile device manufacturers, hardware and service integration firms, professional services, major consumer electronics companies, mobile operators, application developers, universities and research institutions.
The EC's track record for promoting European technology and standards has been one mixed results, with its attempts in promoting DVB-H as the standard for mobile TV failing to make any real progress.
Also, the funding of the JTI programme--much of which should come from EU member states--has not reached its target of €745 million with less than 50 per cent being contributed to date.
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Where does Symbian go from here?