Symbian Partner Network (SPN)

symbian.gifSymbian created a new partner program this week, the Symbian Partner Network (SPN). This will replace the existing Symbian Platinum Partner Program. Why have Symbian done this and what does it mean for developers?

The SPN will…

"make use of a range of technical, marketing and business development tools and resources, including the Symbian OS Binary Access Kit."

Some people are asking Why Is Symbian Charging Its Partners? I see SPN as a stepping stone. It will pacify existing partners who might ask why pay $5000 for the current Platinum program when the OS is about to become open source in the very near future. I suspect Symbian is also hoping to attract some new partners. Why not free? The $1500 is probably to filter out people who are serious about developing from those with just an idle interest because Symbian has to administer all this.

What’s in it for developers? Ignoring the marketing aspects there’s the Binary Access Kit (BAK). What is it? First of all, you don’t need it to do most 3rd party application development. You can just use the freely available S60 and UIQ SDKs. Some sites have commented the BAK includes source code – it doesn’t – only samples you might find in a S60 or UIQ SDK. Instead it includes headers, binaries to allow use of the partner APIs.

If you want source code then you should license the DevKit which costs a lot more (tens of thousands of pounds). It’s used by companies supplying components to Nokia/Sony Ericsson/Motorola/Samsung and those that need examples of how to implement particular features of the OS.

A full explanation of the various SDKs is given in ‘What Symbian OS Development Kit Do I Need?’

Also be careful. What you need might not even be in the Symbian SDK. Over time, much functionality has been implemented in S60 rather than Symbian. This means, for some areas, you may have to partner with Nokia rather than Symbian. Obviously, all these complications should go away once the Symbian Foundation open source the Symbian and S60 code.