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Symbian Limited has announced first quarter results which show shipments are growing steadily but a drop in average royalty per unit has left income static.

Symbian OS can now be found on 235 handset models, of which 154 are currently on sale – an increase of 35 per cent on last year, and Symbian reckons there are 70 more handsets under development by the eight licensees of the OS.

The total number of Symbian phones shipped is up to 206 million, and the company is keen to stress that many of them aren't traditional smart phones as they try to extend their reach into the lower end of the market, though even Symbian is only prepared to describe them as mid-range.

Those Symbian devices now have more than 9,200 third-party applications to download. Symbian counts carefully, excluding shareware, one-man-bands and Java Midlets from their figures, so the real figure is much higher, though impossible to measure accurately.

Symbian has been earning a tidy sum - £4.8m - on consulting services. Helping manufacturers put their OS onto new hardware earned the company almost twice what it did last year, though it admits that income is very variable depending on how many handsets are being developed. Royalties are still the big earner, but remained static at £37.9m.

This is a problem endemic in OS vendors - as your platform extends into the lower end of the market the margins have to fall, but the idea is that increased numbers more than make up the shortfall. Symbian can't afford to have static royalty income for long, so it will be hoping that increased shipments will make up for the drop in royalties, and soon. ®

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