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Hot Talk: Android-Symbian Merger a Possibility?

SAN FRANCISCO -- We're having breakfast this morning at the Intercontinental Hotel here south of Market, just down the block from the Moscone Center, where the LinuxWorld Conference & Expo is being staged. Handheld device manufacturer Nokia is hosting a panel discussion about mobile development trends, and it only took a few minutes for a hot rumor to surface.

(We love blogs for this kind of writing. Can't write a news story, most of the time, about items like this.)

The information is this: Symbian, the world's most-widespread, mostly open-source operating system in handheld devices (it has a few proprietary components), which as of June 24 has its own protective non-profit foundation bankrolled by Nokia, could eventually merge with Google's relatively new, Linux-based, open-source Android operating system.

What a super-OS community organization that would create -- with the financial backing of two of the world's most successful IT companies!

Nokia Forum director Tom Libretto (yes, perhaps he should work for Opera), who shepherds the developer community for the Finnish conglomerate, said that a merger of that sort is only "pure speculation. I've seen no plans at all for something like that. Our intent is to grow the Symbian community through our foundation and through our product development."

That being said, the potential combination of two big open-source projects like these could prove to be a powerful entity in the world market, enough to complete much more effectively with proprietary folks such as Microsoft, Motorola, Samsung, Qualcomm and, yes, even Mobile Linux itself. Technically, Android is a Linux-based system using Google engineering secret sauce; the key thread among them all is that they share Java compatibility.

Libretto did not say this could never happen, but added that "we have no stated plans for anything like that at this point."

"We'll see what happens," Linux Foundation director Jim Zemlin said. "It does open up a lot of positives, such as cost efficiencies. Android has had its delays, as you know, but it promises to be excellent."

Nobody from Google was at the discussion, so we don't know how this strikes that community. Any of you readers want to let us in on your thoughts? Jot them down below, please.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...