Symbian Secures Big Backers in Mobile OS War

Symbian said today that 14 new companies, including Hewlett-Packard (s HPQ), MySpace, Qualcomm (s QCOM) and SanDisk (s SNDK), have joined its foundation. This brings the number of companies that have signed up to use the mobile operating system’s platform to 78, putting it ahead of the 47 members of the Open Handset Alliance, which supports Google’s (s GOOG) Android OS. More members are good, but Symbian still has to get those members psyched up and developing on its mobile operating system.

For example, Qualcomm’s decision to join likely reflects the truce it has struck over royalties with Nokia (s NOK), rather than an endorsement of Symbian. Qualcomm is also a founding member of the Open Handset Alliance. Still, Symbian is not a pariah, thanks to its ties to Nokia, which has almost 40 percent of the global cell phone market. But the shiny, new operating systems created by Google for Android and Apple for its iPhone (s aapl) have left Symbian looking a little dated. Nokia purchased the OS outright last June, and is in the process of an extreme makeover. In the increasingly competitive fight for the ownership of the mobile platform, Symbian can’t afford to rest on its laurels.