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In yet another blow to the Symbian platform, the non-profit Symbian Foundation announced today that it will transition to a licensing-only role, while Nokia will continue development of the mobile platform on its own.

“The founding board members took a bold strategic step in setting up the foundation, which was absolutely the right decision at the time,” wrote Symbian Foundation executive director Tim Holbrow. “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.”

The Symbian Foundation will lay off its 100 full-time employees, and by April 2011 it will be governed by non-executive directors who will manage the licensing operations. Nokia senior vice president Jo Harlow stresses that the company is still committed to Symbian — it expects to sell more than 50 million Symbian^3 devices like the N8.

A few weeks ago, we reported that Symbian CEO Lee Williams stepped down from his position for “personal reasons.” At the time, there were murmurs that it was the beginning of the end for the Symbian Foundation. The platform also lost much of its third-party support recently — Motorola dropped Symbian last year and fully committed to Android, Sony Ericsson dropped support in September, and Samsung gave up on it last month.

Symbian is still the world’s leading smartphone platform, but it’s market share is quickly slipping. Research firm Gartner expects it to drop 10 points in market share by 2014 — from 40.1 percent to 30.2 percent — and IDC notes a steady decline as well.

Given that Nokia was the last major contributor standing in the Symbian Foundation, it makes sense for it to take over the platform’s development duties. The company says that the announcement won’t affect the upcoming Symbian Exchange & Exposition 2010 trade show — but it’s certainly going to be a stormy cloud hanging over that event.

Via PC Mag


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