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Symbian touts 131% jump in smart-phone shipments

All thanks to Nokia, of course...

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Symbian saw its smart-phone operating system ship on 131 per cent more handsets in Q3 2005 than shipped in Q3 2004, the company boasted today.

It's all down to Nokia, of course. Symbian said 8.54m handsets shipped in Q3 with its software on board. It didn't break that down by licensee, but market watcher Canalys recently said Nokia shipped 7.1m smart phones in the same period, all of which are based on Symbian. Even allowing for discrepancies between the way Symbian and Canalys calculate their figures, Nokia accounts for over 80 per cent of Symbian's shipments.

Either way, it's good for Symbian: its turnover grew from £16.3m in Q3 2004 to £28.6m in Q3 2005. The vast majority of that revenue arose from royalty payments.

Symbian said some 56 products based on its OS were in development at 11 of its licensees during Q3, up from 38 and ten, respectively. Some 60 Symbian-based handset model were on sale during Q3, up from 54 in the previous quarter and 29 in the year-ago quarter. Of those 60 phones, 19 were designed for 3G networks, Symbian said.

The risk to Symbian is that it will increasingly be perceived that it's a Nokia development house, which could push other vendors - existing Symbian licensees among them - to rival platforms like Linux or Palm OS, but in particular Windows Mobile.

It has been alleged that BenQ executives have said the company, now it owns Siemens' handset business, will focus on Windows Mobile going forward, which would clearly cut the number of one-time Symbian licensees developing phones based on that OS by two. So far, BenQ has not been willing to confirm or deny reports quoting its executives' comments about the firm's ongoing support for Symbian. ®

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