Sharp, Opera, others sign up for Symbian Foundation

HELSINKI Tue Sep 9, 2008 11:05am EDT

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HELSINKI (Reuters) - Electronics firm Sharp (6753.T), Internet firm Opera Software (OPERA.OL), Korean mobile operator KTF 032390.KS and 6 others said on Tuesday they planned to join the Symbian Foundation to get free access to its software.

Since June 2008, 40 companies have said they plan to join the foundation, including all major mobile phone makers, Sony Ericsson said in a statement, giving it an edge over Google Inc's (GOOG.O) Android in a battle over who will dominate mobile phone software market in coming years.

"This will help drive the next level of innovation needed to deliver new user experiences on mobile phones," Mats Lindoff, Sony Ericsson (6758.T) (ERICb.ST) Chief Technology Officer, said on behalf of the initial board members in a statement.

Nokia (NOK1V.HE), the world's No.1 mobile phone maker, said in June it would buy out other shareholders of UK-based smartphone software maker Symbian for $410 million and make its software royalty-free to other phone makers in response to new rivals.

Nokia will contribute Symbian's assets to the not-for-profit organization, Symbian Foundation, in which it would unite with leading handset makers, network operators and communications chipmakers to create an open-source platform.

Nokia has said it sees Symbian Foundation as a way to bring new products faster to the markets. Foundation members also avoid having to pay fees to outside software developers.

It expects to release first unified Symbian Foundation software next year and introduce a completely new platform by June 2010.

Hundreds of companies have expressed interest in joining the foundation, the statement said.

(Reporting by Sakari Suoninen; Editing by Louise Ireland, Paul Bolding)

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