Interview with Lee Williams, The Foundation’s Symbian

One of the most interesting talks during the Nokia Developer Summit last week, was the of Lee Williams, Executive Director of the Symbian Foundation. Career through companies such as Be, creator of the system, BeOS, or Palm, and previously worked for Nokia in the important development of the S60 interface.

Lee Williams is a good speaker and his “keynote” had several very striking points. For example, it is curious to hear in an event organized by Nokia, Symbian Foundation is an organization totally independent. He said it without blinking, and the truth is that the steps taken so far by Nokia and the Symbian Foundation demonstrate this fact. If we note that Samsung, with the Omnia HD, and Sony Ericsson, with the Idou, they have chosen to Symbian as an operating system, we can deduce that there is at least some support for all open source strategy.

Another interesting point that spoke to Lee Williams was one comparison between different platforms Mobile. It was not performance or price, but compare concepts such as control of their evolution, a number of steps to get a new version to market, or the community and support existing on each operating system. The case is that Symbian and iPhone tied to points in the table, something that the own Williams explained later.

Also emphasized much the paper developers they meet in an open source Symbian. According to the symbolism of the new Symbian open source, Williams told developers that they were now “an almighty duck robot”, the opening of the system places them in a very advantageous position. In addition to the ease of working on a system that you can read how it works, the idea is the total opening improvements, anyone can propose changes that will help improve the system. Along with the code “pure and hard”, the Foundation plans to offer a series of tools so far for internal use, not only for third-party applications, also for device manufacturers.

In short, the intervention of Lee Williams made clear that the Symbian Foundation is not just a smokescreen or a gesture. They are determined to open operating system and turn it into the best existing mobile platform. The choice of the way open source is almost an imperative in the new Symbian philosophy: the APIs that are not open, are obsolete.

After his talk, we had the opportunity of briefly interviewing Lee Williams and ask you some questions.

XM: Symbian consists of some 14 million lines of code and one of the major drawbacks of the platform is its difficulty in programming, do you think that the publication of the code will help reduce complexity?

LW: Of course you are. That’s one of the great advantages of open source, feedback obtained from the community. The publication of the Symbian code is going to produce at various stages and for packages with different content. Some of these packages will be of interest to third party developers, other packages will be more attractive for operators or manufacturers of phones. Our goal is to create the best possible software platform with the collaboration of all. On the other hand Symbian will continue with its strategy of several options for developers. The inclusion of Open C, QT, or Web Run Time libraries is something provided for in the evolution of the system.

XM: Perhaps .net in the future?

LW: Well, we are open to that option. We know the work of Red Five Labs, everything will depend on which model of license and that prices are they thinking.

XM: In the comparison on mobile platforms has made in his keynote, Symbian and iPhone stand out against RIM, Windows Mobile or Android, but are matched to points. What does this mean?

LW: Yes, it is true, I have valued attributes of different platforms on issues that matter to developers or manufacturers and think that Apple and Symbian in general are at the same level. But there is a fundamental difference, one is a closed system and the other open. The future is, without a doubt, platforms open.

XM: Following with the Apple-Symbian theme, would you prefer: thousands or hundreds of applications?

LW: Personally, I’d like to Symbian to have the best of both worlds. It is not to have many applications but that there are many and of good quality. Our mission is to provide the basis to enable others to create, so the time will say that model is that evolves on Symbian.

XM: You have access to the source code may seem somewhat superfluous or useless for the normal user. Will Symbian focus only on developers?

LW: We will not forget the normal user. The publication of the Symbian code and the creation of a development community is a more technical aspect, but we also want that the user understands the possibilities offered by a device with Symbian. It is an idea that we are going to promote.

XM: You published the photos and information of Symbian on an Intel Atom chip, will we soon have computers running on Symbian?

LW: In reality is just a proof of concept, still is much work to do in this regard. The idea was to demonstrate the versatility of the system. If a manufacturer of netbooks have a computer with Symbian, it is possible to do so, and its developments contribute at the same time the community.

XM: What is your favorite Symbian phone? And your favorite program?

LW: Right now I am using N97, which is a very good device. I am also very pleased with the work of optimization has been done with the 5800 XpressMusic. In terms of software, Gravity, I know its author and it is one of the best programs for Symbian.

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