Symbian Rolling Along
By Carlo Longino, Wed Aug 04 22:15:00 GMT 2004

The OS developer says it shipped 5 million handsets in the first half of 2004, an 85% increase over last year.

Symbian's revenue leapt up by a quarter, as its licensees shipped a total of 23 products running the OS around the world. The number of third-party commercial applications for Symbian also more than doubled, with the company saying there are nearly 3,000 now available.

The OS' lead in the market is underlined by figures from Canalys, which frustratingly insists on combining smartphone and PDA sales to make the "mobile device market." Forty-one percent of all featurephones, smartphones, handhelds and wireless handhelds (going by Canalys' confusing definitions) sold around the world in the second quarter were Symbian devices, nearly double the share of either Palm OS or Microsoft OSes -- quite a lead considering the figure includes PDAs running both those flavors of software.

Symbian "dominated" the voice-centric market, Canalys says, though it didn't provide any specific numbers. It does say, however, that 15% of palmOne's sales in the quarter were smartphones, meaning it sold about 160,000 Treos or about 7% the number of Symbian devices.

Although Symbian's other shareholders recently increased their holdings, holding Nokia's share after its buyout of Psion's stake to about 49%, doubts linger over just how independent the venture is. The estimate that Nokia shipped 80% of all Symbian devices in the second quarter isn't likely to help allay such concerns, but the operating system's vast lead over its competitors should help Symbian's other owners and licensees get over it.