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Growth in Symbian phone sales slows

Growth rate drops to 5% in second quarter

By Mikael Ricknäs
September 2, 2008 12:00 PM ET

IDG News Service - Symbian, a mobile phone operating system developer in London, has reported that its growth continues to slow.

The number of phones shipped with the operating system in the second quarter increased by 5% year over year. In the first quarter, the annual growth rate was 16.5%, and last year it grew even faster.

Yet the smart phone market as a whole continued to grow at a rate of 16% year over year during the second quarter, according to research firm Gartner Inc.

A total of 19.6 million Symbian-based phones shipped between April and June, compared with 18.7 million units during the second quarter last year and 18.5 million during the first three months of 2008, according to Symbian.

The marked slowdown is alarming, said Geoff Blaber, an analyst at CCS Insight, noting that there are a couple of explanations for it. Since most Symbian devices are high-end phones, the company is dependent on more mature markets where phone sales have slowed. But the main reason is that Nokia Corp. has been quiet on the Symbian front, and Symbian sales are dominated by the Finnish cell phone maker, according to Blaber.

Sales of Symbian-based devices are expected to pick up in the second half, as Nokia launches phones such as the N96. The platform will also get a boost from other devices, such as Samsung's Innov8, which has an 8-megapixel camera and HSDPA (High-Speed Downlink Packet Access) at 7.2Mbit/sec., according to Blaber.

The smart phone market is about to go through some major changes. Competition is heating up, with Apple's iPhone G3 going global and the first Google Android phones also on the way.

While other players enter the market, or expand their position, those counting on Symbian are concentrating their efforts and pulling together. At the end of June, Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Motorola and NTT DoCoMo announced their intent to unite the Symbian operating system and other software that build on it, including S60, UIQ and MOAP(S), to create one open mobile software platform.

The first version of the unified platform will become available during the first half of 2010, but that is not fast enough for Roberta Cozza, an analyst at Gartner. To keep up with the competition, Cozza said it has to be brought forward some time next year.

Reprinted with permission from IDG.net. Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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