Symbian OS Shows Dramatic Growth

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Symbian Limited, the company responsible for developing and licensing the Symbian OS, has announced its results for the first three months of 2004. The number of Symbian powered devices shipped during this time was more than double the number shipped during the same period last year.

Symbian isn’t a publicly traded company; instead, all shares are owned by a group of smartphone makers. This means the company doesn’t have to release the same kinds of financial information that other handheld makers do. Nevertheless, it has announced some information on how it performed during the January-to-March quarter.

The company had revenues of 12.9 million pounds ($23 million), up substantially from the 9.2 million pounds ($16.5 million) it earned in the same quarter last year.

This improvement came entirely from increased royalties earned from its licensees. These companies shipped 2.4 million devices with the Symbian OS, an increase of over 100 percent when compared with the first the quarter of 2003.

The Symbian OS completely dominates smartphone sales in Europe, but it is in the minority in North America.

Symbian Limited ended the quarter with 16.2 million pounds ($29 million) in cash in the bank.

Milestones

Major changes during this quarter include the release of Symbian OS 8.0, created to lower the cost of building Symbian OS phones while providing enhanced Java and multimedia capabilities.

David Levin, the company’s CEO said, “Three new Symbian OS licensees were signed, including LG Electronics, the world’s fifth largest handset manufacturer; Arima, a leading Taiwanese manufacturer; and, Lenovo, the largest IT corporation in China.”

At the end of the first quarter of 2004, 30 phones and variants based on Symbian OS were under development by 9 licensees.

A Period of Transition

In February, Psion announced that it is going to sell its portion of the Symbian software group to Nokia, the world’s largest mobile phone maker. The purchase will bring Nokia’s ownership of this partnership to approximately 63 percent, give it controlling interest in the Symbian OS.

This deal has been approved by Psion shareholders and has received approval from the Finnish and Austrian competition authorities. The proposed sale transaction will become unconditional on receipt of approval from the German Bundeskartellamt.

However, it is not clear at this point whether Nokia will end up with a controlling stake in Symbian. Instead, Psion’s shares may be divided up among all the shareholders until none has more than 50 percent of the company.

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