Symbian Foundation Names Leader

The Symbian Foundation, an open-source organization aimed at creating an open operating system for mobile phones, named Lee Williams as its executive director. Williams is a Nokia executive, heading up the company's S60 group.

LONDON-The Symbian Foundation, a consortium of vendors banded together to build mobile solutions based on the open-source Symbian OS, has announced the appointment of a new executive director of the foundation.

At the Symbian Smartphone Show here, David Wood, senior vice president of research at Symbian, broke from the morning keynote sessions to announce Lee Williams as the new executive director of the planned foundation. The 10 initial board members of the Symbian Foundation-AT&T, LG Electronics, Motorola, Nokia, NTT DOCOMO, Samsung Electronics, Sony Ericsson, ST-NXP Wireless, Texas Instruments and Vodafone-nominated Williams as the executive director for the planned foundation. Williams is currently head of the S60 organization in Nokia's Devices business.

"We are delighted to have such a strong and experienced leader to head the Symbian Foundation," said Kris Rinne, senior vice president, architecture and planning, for AT&T on behalf of the initial board members, in a statement. "Lee Williams is well-known in our industry and has been a driving force in the establishment of the foundation. Following an extensive, independent selection process, we believe that he is the best candidate to lead the foundation. He will now work to ensure we get the most complete and competitive Symbian Foundation platform offering and setup the operations needed to drive the platform to its next phase of evolution as quickly as possible. "

"I feel honored to have been invited to serve in this role," Williams said. "This is a great opportunity to directly help deliver on the promise of the foundation, working with the stakeholders and prospective members who are so committed to make this initiative a success. To me, there can be no more exciting role in the mobile software world than to lead the Symbian Foundation."

Moreover, Williams said, "This is the type of thing that doesn't come along but once in a career, once in a lifetime."

He said he will focus on four "beacons" or primary points of interest. "First, this is the opportunity to put together the most capable and competitive technology offering in the mobile space," Williams said. "And we need to as soon as possible get this asset base together."

In a press conference following the announcement of his appointment, Williams said his "first goal is to get the first distro [operating system distribution] out the door under a royalty-free license-hopefully in Q1 rather than Q2 [of 2009]."

Williams' second beacon is to enable the creation of the richest types of applications, leveraging Nokia's Qt cross-platform development environment as a core. The third beacon is to reach the point of hardware abstraction where "we can see as many different hardware technologies as possible" to run Symbian OS, and the fourth beacon is to create an ecosystem without taxation.

Williams said the foundation will have a leadership core with him at the center and there will be councils comprised of partners. Although Williams had been leading the Nokia S60 organization, he said, "I've given up any equity interest," to maintain an independent focus on duties as head of the foundation.

Symbian officials said 52 companies have announced their support for the planned Symbian Foundation, including eight device manufacturers, seven semiconductor companies, nine mobile network operators, 27 services and software companies, and one financial services provider. More details are available at, where hundreds of other organizations have registered their interest in learning more about the Symbian Foundation since plans were announced in June 2008.

As previously announced, the plans for the establishment of the Symbian Foundation and royalty-free licensing of foundation software are:

""The acquisition of Symbian Limited by Nokia, expected to close in Q4 2008, subject to regulatory approvals and customary closing conditions.Software assets are contributed to the foundation, including Symbian OS and S60 by Nokia, UIQ technology by Motorola and Sony Ericsson and MOAP(S) by NTT DOCOMO and Fujitsu.This contributed software will be available under a royalty-free license to foundation members from the first day of Symbian Foundation operations, expected 1H 2009.The Foundation will work to unify the platform, with the first unified foundation release expected in 2009.The foundation will work to make the platform available in open source by June 2010 (two years from the Symbian Foundation announcement).""

Lee Williams will remain in his current role as head of the S60 organization in Nokia's Devices business until Jan. 1, 2009, or until such time as the foundation and its leadership team are in place and operational. The operation of the foundation remains subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals.