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Nokia, Symbian score blockbuster Samsung phone win

Microsoft's biggest phone ally turns turtle

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Exclusive According to our most reliable sources, who have proved very reliable indeed recently, Samsung has signed a deal with Nokia to license the latter's Series 60 user interface for smartphones.

Samsung has been the only significant brand to sign-up for rival Microsoft's SmartPhone platform, and it represents a major breakthrough for Nokia in establishing its credentials as a software licensing company. The Series 60 deal could mark a turning point in the battered fortunes of Symbian, as the UI, formerly known as "Pearl", runs on top of the Symbian OS. The Korean giant's expertise in building CDMA phones gives the anti-Microsoft camp a major boost in the US market.

Symbian endured a calamitous GSM Congress a fortnight ago, coming days after the resignation of its CEO Colly Myers. Interviews were cancelled at the last minute, and no stand-ins were made available.

But the announcement of Ericsson/Sony's P800 imaging smartphone earlier today helps deflate the Redmond spin that Symbian is all but a distant outpost of the Nokia empire these days. While it's true that the Finns do call many of the shots, it doesn't follow that the rest of the industry has shunned the platform. Far from it. Sony has its own "Stork" Symbian based smartphone in the pipeline, and is already introducing Sony technology into the P800 successor, "Linnea 2"; and Motorola has based its Paragon smartphone on Symbian too. Panasonic has yet to announce its Symbian 7-based mediaphone.

Smartphones have always been interesting in their own right: they're very personal converged data devices; but politically, they pitch Microsoft's most two powerful antagonists - Nokia and Sony - in opposition, and neither opponent needs to give Redmond any quarter.

A twenty-strong team of Samsung engineers has been working on the smartphone since late last year, we understand.

A spokesman for Symbian in London declined to comment. ®

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