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Update Smartphone operating system company Symbian today opened up its books to offer the world a glimpse of its financial performance during the three months to 30 September, the company's third quarter.

Symbian reported revenues of £9.4 million for the period, down both sequentially and year on year by 21 per cent and six per cent, respectively, from £11.9 million in Q2 2003 and £10 million in Q3 2002.

The sharp sequential decline followed a dip in the company's average royalty per handset from $6.3 per unit to $5.7. Royalty revenues fell between Q2 and Q3 from £5.8 million to £4.4 million. Consultancy revenues fell quarter on quarter from £4.9 million to £4.5 million, and other revenues dropped from £1.2 million to £500,000.

Symbian nets a royalty for its OS and receives a lesser, undisclosed dividend from the UIQ user interface, licensed by a subsidiary company. However, it doesn't receive a cent from use of the Series 60 UI, owned by Nokia. Since Nokia ships the vast majority of the world's Symbian handsets, that's a lot of royalty Symbian is missing out on.

Symbian achieved a small reduction in operating costs between Q2 and Q3, cutting costs from £18 million to £17.4 million. The company exited Q3 with £23.4 million in the bank, down from Q2's £29.7 million, but well up on the year-ago quarter's £15.6 million.

The company's figures are unaudited. As a privately-held company, Symbian doesn't have to make its financial and operational numbers public.

Despite Symbian's weaker financial performance during Q3, its licensees are working on 31 devices, up from 26 during the previous quarter, it said. The more handsets those licensees subsequently ship, the higher the OS company's royalty revenues will be in future quarters. Q3 missed key handset launches such as Nokia's N-Gage and 6600, Sendo's X, and Sony Ericsson's P900 and sales of these should start flowing through in Q4.

Some 1.23 million Symbian-based phones shipped during Q3, up from 790,000 in the year-ago quarter but down from Q2's record-breaking 1.49 million units. During the first nine months of 2003, licensees shipped 3.91 million Symbian-based handsets.

The company told The Register it was confident that Q4 revenues will be significantly up on Q3's figure, noting that some analystst are anticipating that some three million Symbian handhelds will ship in the Christmas sales period. ®

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