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Symbian toasts threefold leap in handset shipments

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Smart-phone operating system developer Symbian today lauded figures that indicate a big jump in demand for devices based on its software. But the company signalled a need to drive sales in the wider handset market if it is to continue to deliver strong growth.

Some 7.8m Symbian-based handsets shipped in Q2 FY2005, the three months to 30 June 2005, Symbian said - three times the figure for Q2 FY2004, 2.6m. Shipments were up 16.4 per cent sequentially.

For the first six months of the privately held company's financial year, 14.5m devices were shipped by Symbian licensees - an increase of 190 per cent on H1 FY2004 and more than the total for FY2004 as a whole.

Symbian is owned by Nokia, Ericcson, SonyEricsson, Panasonic, Siemens and Samsung, in order of the size of their shareholdings. Nokia dominates, with 47.9 per cent of the company in its portfolio, and it's largely Nokia's own handset shipments that have fuelled Symbian's success.

As calendar Q2 figures from market watcher Canalys recently showed, Nokia increased its market share from 33.2 per cent in Q2 2004 to 54.9 per cent in Q2 2005 on the back of a 240.3 per cent increase in unit shipments. That helped Symbian extend its leadership of the operating system market, with a 214.8 per cent jump in unit shipments pushing the Symbian OS' share from 41 per cent to 62.8 per cent.

At the end of Symbian's first half, 54 Symbian-based devices were on sale, 18 of them introduced during the six-month period, company CEO Nigel Clifford said in a statement. Sixteen of the 54 are 3G phones, most of them developed for the Japanese market. This time last year 23 Symbian-based devices were available to buy. Today, some 50 more are in development, Clifford said.

"Shipments of Symbian OS phones remain small relative to the overall handset market," he admitted. "Symbian's strategic focus must remain on driving increased shipments through the adoption of Symbian OS for further handset models, and particularly for the development of lower price, mid-range handsets designed to ship in higher volumes."

As a privately held company Symbian did not publish financial performance figures. ®

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