AOL joins Symbian OS partner program

America Online Inc. (AOL) said Thursday that it has joined a development and partner program for the Symbian Ltd. mobile device operating system (OS), allowing it to more easily deliver media and entertainment to Symbian licensees who manufacture 75 percent of the mobile phones currently sold.

The open Symbian OS is licensed by mobile device makers such as Nokia Corp., Motorola Inc., Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. and Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications AB, and AOL hopes that by joining the Symbian Platinum Partner program it will be able to better access mobile users.

The Internet and media company said that the partnership program will allow users of its AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) and ICQ instant messaging products to access contact lists and chat over their mobile phones.

AOL also plans to develop its T9 Text Input software, which enables short messaging service (SMS), wireless IM and e-mail communications, for Symbian OS mobile phones, as well as other content and applications.

"This makes it a lot easier to implement AIM, ICQ and T9 across those (Symbian OS-based) handsets," said AOL Spokesman Derick Mains.

Beforehand, the company had to spend a lot of time and effort to embed an application running off of each separate OS, Mains said. Now, however, AOL can develop a core application to run across all Symbian-based systems. The Dulles, Virginia, company will still have to negotiate with each handset maker to embed applications in their products, however.

The Symbian Partner Program gives members privileged access to Symbian OS source code, as well as support and commercial services.

While Mains said that it is too early to say what other applications and content AOL would develop for Symbian, he said that offerings such as mapping and movie information and ticketing tools were a possibility.

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