Symbian smart phone sales soar 1000%

Company's coffers swell nicely too

Symbian is clearly one of the prime beneficiaries of the rise in smartphone sales at the expense of PDA shipments highlighted by market watchers like IDC of late.

Around 2.68 million handsets based on Symbian technology shipped during the first half of the year, up more than 1000 per cent from the 230,000 that shipped in the first half of 2002.

Q2 saw a 27 per cent increase in Symbian-based handset shipments over the 1.18 million devices that shipped in Q1.

The effects on Symbian of that increase were a near sevenfold increase in royalty revenues for the six months to 30 June 2003, rising from H1 2002's £1.5 million ($2.4 million) to £10.2 million ($16.3 million), and a 122 per cent increase in the company's overall revenue, which grew from £9.5 million ($15.2 million) during 1H 2002 to £21.1 million ($33.7 million) in 1H 2003, it revealed today.

It should be pointed out that the figures are unaudited. However, Symbian is a privately held company and as such under no obligation to publish its figures. That it has done so is a sign of the growing success of the smartphone market as a whole: it wants the world to take a greater note of the role it has played and to raise its profile in a business dominated by public companies regularly publishing financial results and receiving analyst commentaries.

Indeed, its move is intended to "enable the financial markets to better understand Symbian's activities and progress towards establishing Symbian OS as the industry standard operating system for smartphones", a spokesman said.

Symbian isn't a true standard, of course, it's simply the market leader, though Microsoft is likely to be challenging that role with its new Windows Mobile 2003 for Smartphones offering. Palm, too, is steering in that direction.

That there's still plenty to play for is signaled by how few Symbian-based products have generated all that growth. Currently there are only ten Symbian-based handsets on the market, though the company says 26 more are in development, from nine licensees.

At the end of March, Symbian CEO David Levin said 21 devices were in development from all ten of the company's licensees, so by our reckoning, while nine companies have increased the number of Symbian OS products they have in the works, one licensee has decided not to bother after all.

Maybe it's Motorola, which is believed to have defected to the Microsoft camp. Its Symbian-based A920 3G phone is completed and due to ship in the coming months. ®

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