The Symbian Foundation said proprietary computer code used in the world's top smartphone operating system was now open source, meaning it can be used for free and potentially saving manufacturers up to $15 per phone.

Nokia and other cellphone makers using Symbian hope the move will boost usage of the software as vendors don't have to pay a licencing fee. Microsoft charges up to $15 per phone for its Windows software, analysts say. Symbian controls around half the smartphone market, but its market share has slipped since Apple and Google entered the sector. In response, Nokia bought out other Symbian shareholders in 2008 and gave its software to an independent foundation to develop on an open source basis. The Symbian Foundation said on Thursday it had finished that task. “Not only has this come four months ahead of schedule, but also represents 10 years of investment and billions of dollars worth of code,” the foundation said. Symbian's main benefit battling new rivals is its scale — it said there are more 330 million Symbian devices in use, compared with just a few million phones using Google's Android software.

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