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Sharp will begin shipping Symbian-based handsets next year in a bid to grow its share of the mobile phone market outside Japan.

Sharp currently uses its own phone OS, Itron, and incorporates it into handsets sold domestically by NTT DoCoMo and Vodafone.

According to Sharp Communications Systems president Masafumi Matsumoto, 70 per cent of its handsets are sold in Japan. "We would like to bring our international shipments up to 50 per cent of the total," he told reporters last week.

Hence Symbian, he added: "Cellular phones featuring the Symbian OS would be easier to distribute throughout the world, and it would be easier to differentiate."

Matsumoto said the Symbian OS would not be used on all Sharp handsets, but "we would like to gradually increase the percentage of our high-functionality products featuring the Symbian OS".

Symbian's website does not currently list Sharp as a licensee. ®

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