Smartphone Show 2008: Free love for Symbian developers

There is such a thing as free code, apparently.

Symbian opened the Smartphone Show in London this morning by announcing that the company plans to make its operating system (OS) available for free.

Given that 2007's royalties for the platform helped it rake it around $300 million, that's quite a cash injection into the developer ecosystem.

"Two years ago, we looked at our pricing and said We can contribute to the momentum in the marketplace. [So we started] pushing the volume argument into the market and that's been pretty successful," said Symbian's chief executive Nigel Clifford.

"[Now], what we're going to be doing is making the Symbian OS available for free. For nothing. So effectively we're going to be putting $300 million back into the ecosystemThere are going to be many uses for this money."

Clifford then turned his attention to the competitive advantage that developers can gain in the mobile industry - vowing to help remove further barriers to make this happen.

"I firmly believe that speed is actually the only sustainable competitive advantage we have in our industry. Would Usain Bolt have achieved his [Olympic World] record if he had hurdles to overcome? We see budding Usain Bolts and we want to make sure their development track is swept clear of obstacles," he said.

"He was told way back that he wasn't going to be a sprinter. He could have accepted that and tried something else He wasn't interested in the rules of the game and being told what was and wasn't possible. He just went for it."

Perhaps in a nod to the current economic climate, couple with the dynamic nature of the industry, Clifford concluded his keynote with some advice for the mobile developer community.

"The rules of the game are going to change. And rather than regard that as a problem or a pain, I would ask you to regard this as an opportunity. Changing the rules of the game is when big opportunities occur. Please think about how you are going to take advantage of that."

Clifford concluded: "I urge you to use the next couple of days to think about, talk about and strategise to see what opportunities you can find in this game changing [time]."

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