Symbian Foundation to slash its operations

In a despairing effort to save the dying Symbian operating system the Symbian Foundation announced today that it is to restructure its organisation and make a transition to just a licensing operation responsible for handing out licences to the software and trademarks behind the platform.

The move will mean a substantial restructuring of the Foundation, which has been operating since 2008. The first phase is set to involve a culling of staff numbers and an overall reduction in operations, which suggests that the organisation is unable to sustain its current spending for a platform that Gartner labelled as a “failure”.

The governance of the Foundation will also be restructured, with plans to have a group of non-executive directors overseeing the licensing of Symbian by April of 2011.

“The founding board members took a bold strategic step in setting up the Foundation, which was absolutely the right decision at the time,” said Tim Holbrow, Executive Director of the Symbian Foundation. “There has since been a seismic change in the mobile market but also more generally in the economy, which has led to a change in focus for some of our funding board members. The result of this is that the current governance structure for the Symbian platform – the Foundation – is no longer appropriate.”

Holbrow was keen to dismiss the widely-held view that the Symbian platform is dying a slow death, saying that it still enjoys “strong support” from a number of companies around the world. He said that there is still “solid momentum” behind the OS, citing figures suggesting that 25 percent of Symbian devices were shipped within the last year alone.

The news comes at a time when Symbian is losing support from all angles, with previous supporters like Samsung and Sony Ericsson backing out to support more successful platforms like Android and Windows Phone 7. The EC recently invested €11 million in the OS, but with its own directors jumping ship the last thing Symbian needed was a reduction in its Foundation’s operations.

The Foundation has promised that the cuts will cause as little disruption as possible and won’t affect the Symbian Exchange and Exposition conference set to commence tomorrow in Amsterdam.