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Psion sees bright spot in Symbian sales

Shipments double

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Around 8.69 million Symbian smart phones were shipped to the end of September, more than double the 3.91 million shipped by the same point in 2003.

The news was announced by Psion, which used to own a significant chunk of the Symbian operating system, which is widely used in smartphones. Although Psion sold its 31.1 per ent stake in Symbian in February of this year, the amount it ultimately receives for its shares depends upon the number of Symbian units sold in 2004 and 2005.

Psion has already received £93.5m for its shares, which has allowed it to focus on its Teklogix industrial handheld computers. Psion predicts Symbian sales of 14.5 million unit sales in 2004 and 24.7 million in 2005, which would net £126.4m for Psion, or £0.303 per share. Psion said that this figure was "in line with management expectations",

"We think that this is good news," Rachel Lashford, analyst at Canalys, told ElectricNews.net. "Microsoft and Palmsource are the competitors in this space, but Symbian has 80 per cent market share."

It's particularly good news for Nokia, which owns 47 per cent of the Symbian consortium. Panasonic, Sony Ericsson, Siemens and Samsung own the balance. The majority of smart phones shipped are Nokia phones, although Motorola, which licenses the technology from Symbian, is also releasing smart phones to the market.

Psion's announcement follows a lacklustre earnings forecast from its Teklogix division. In the six months to the end of June, Psion had turnover of £63.4m from continuing operations, which nearly matches the STG63.3m in turnover it had in the corresponding period of 2003.

Although the company has managed to maintain its revenues year on year, it warned that future revenues are likely to come under pressure. Due to "technical challenges," compounded by delays in shipments and pressure on profit margins, Psion now expects its results for the current year to be lower than previously expected.

Observers have questioned the foresight of Psion's decision to sell the Symbian operating system. The market for industrial handheld devices is small, and Psion is competing in that marketplace with the producers of tablet PCs. Although handheld computers are more durable than tablet PCs, they are also more expensive.

In London on Thursday afternoon, Psion shares were down 2.5 per cent to £0.585.

© ENN

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