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Matsushita to invest in Symbian phone alliance

Another biggie joins the ranks, and NTT's interested too

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The Symbian alliance is poised to crack the key Japanese market, according to reports in Tokyo. Yesterday's Nihon Keizai Shimbun said that Matsushita's will invest in Symbian, while NTT Mobile Communications is considering Symbian's EPOC as the OS for a cellular device to be released in 2001. Symbian is a joint venture company with Psion, Nokia, Ericsson and Motorola holding stakes, and these companies alone are sufficient to give it a commanding head-start in the smartphone arena. EPOC is intended to be licensed for $5-10 for smartphones and communicators, and it's by no means compulsory for licensees to buy shares in the company. But there's a certain symbolism attached to getting industry leaders on the balance sheet, so Matsushita's recruitment will be a helpful boost. Meanwhile if NTT does go for EPOC, the OS is likely to get an early showcasing in third generation networks. Japan is rolling out 3G broadband wireless somewhat in advance of the rest of the world, so is where the first super-cool gizmos are going to be seen in action. ®

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