CANNES, France Symbian Ltd. made a low-key launch of its latest operating system for mobile communications gear on Tuesday (Feb. 19) at the 3GSM World Congress here, following the resignation last week of chief executive officer Colly Myers.
Details of version 7.0 of the operating system were scarce, but the release does include several mobile networking and messaging capabilities that were not fully integrated in the previous version 6.1. These including both Internet Protocol Secure (IPsec) and Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6), which extend the ability of mobile phones to communicate securely on a peer-to-peer basis.
Source code was needed to implement these features with version 6.1, said Morton Graubelle, product manager for version 7.0.
"For the IPv6 function, we decided not to use open source, but instead licensed the technology from another supplier that I cannot name. We believe this was the best option . You can't develop everything in-house", Graubelle said.
On the other hand, the multimedia messaging (MMS) function of version 7.0 was developed by Symbian. And Graubelle said the company will offer dual configurations of Java for mobile application and service development: Personal Java and a cut-down version of the Mobile Information Device Profile (MIDP) Java for high-end applications; and just the MIDP version for general mobile phones.
"We are shipping v7.0 to all our licensees over the next month, and expect most of them will have 2.5G- and 3G-capable phones and communicators that use the new operating system to be shipping by the end of the year", said Graubelle.
The release was welcomed by many in the mobile communications sector, winning endorsements from Texas Instruments, Intel, PacketVideo, Metrowerks, Superscape and others.
Thomas Chambers, Symbian's chief financial officer and acting joint interim chief operating officer , said the departure of Myers as CEO will have no impact on Symbian's business model. The company relies almost entirely on royalties from licensors of its OS. "So far only Nokia and Ericsson are using it, but I am not concerned because I know there is a long list of companies developing next-generation mobile devices using our range of operating systems," Chambers said. "And I am certain 2.5G and 3G will take off in a big way its just a question of when. But once it does, tens of millions of mobile devices will be shipping incorporating our OS."
R&D spending will not be compromised, and less than 25 percent of each OS will be based on technology that has been purchased or codeveloped with another party, Chambers said. Symbian must retain as much of each OS licensing fee as possible, he said.
"We are certainly not complacent, and know we have to work hard to get the right technology out at the right time," he said.
Chambers said he does not expect to have to raise furth er funds to continue expensive OS developments, following two rounds of financing over the last two years, which brought in $32 million in late 2000 and a further $33 million last month.
"But if there is a need, I feel comfortable that our shareholders will continue to back us," he said.