Sharp and Fujitsu are introducing 11 Symbian-running smartphones, as Nokia says it will support the OS, following backpedaling from the Symbian Foundation.
Nokia reaffirmed its support for the Symbian operating system, just as Sharp
and Fujitsu have introduced new smartphones running the mobile platform-which
remains the most popular worldwide, despite losing support to Google's Android
OS, most recently from Samsung
and Sony Ericsson
Nokia plans to "continue to invest its resources in developing Symbian,"
it said in a Nov. 8 statement, following an announcement by the board of the
Symbian Foundation, which said it plans to transition from its current
operational activity to acting only as a licensing operation.
Nokia purchased Symbian in 2008, made the software open source and
established the independent, nonprofit Symbian Foundation to foster development
of handsets based on the OS.
"The future of Symbian as a platform does not depend on the existence
of the foundation," Jo Harlow, senior vice president of smartphones at
Nokia, said in the statement. "The changes announced by the foundation
have no impact on Nokia's Symbian device roadmaps or shipping commitments. The
platform powers hundreds of millions of smartphones-including our own-and we
expect to deliver ongoing support and innovation benefitting the Symbian
ecosystem in the future."
Nokia recently launched the Symbian 3-running N8 smartphone, its new
flagship device, as well as the
C7 and C6-01 smartphones
, which helped it ship 26.5 million units during
the third quarter-a significant jump from the 16.4 million it shipped during
the same quarter a year earlier, IDC
reported Nov. 4. Set to launch during the fourth quarter is the
, another device likely to help Nokia sell what it's forecasting will be "more
than 50 million" Symbian 3-based devices.
Help will also come from Fujitsu and Sharp, which "unveiled 11 new
smartphone models running Symbian software," Reuters
reported Nov. 9, calling it a "rare
show of support for Nokia's waning software platform."
Research firm Canalys
reported Nov. 1 that thanks to Nokia's support, Symbian is the leading
smartphone OS in 37 of the 56 countries it tracks, though in Japan,
the OS is held up by Fujitsu and Sharp.
The Symbian Foundation, the Canalys report added, "has been in a recent
state of flux, with a streamlining of the workforce and the departure of its
Executive Director, Lee Williams, along with the withdrawal of support from
Samsung and Sony Ericsson. But it still has continued backing from the Japanese
vendors and dedication from Nokia to its ongoing development."
Canalys analyst Pete Cunningham wrote that the N8 in particular will help to
boost Nokia's holiday sales and outlook into 2010, "as Nokia aims to push
Symbian devices further into the mid-tier of the market to attract mass-market
volumes." Still, he pointed to MeeGo, the OS Nokia has collaborated on
with Intel, as a key to helping the Finnish phone maker compete with Apple and Google.
"Nokia still lacks a truly high-end product to compete against the
iPhone and leading Android devices," wrote Cunningham. "The market is
moving quickly and Nokia urgently needs to deliver an exciting and genuinely
differentiated, high-end flagship MeeGo device early next year to regain its
reputation as an innovative technology leader, and to retain its leadership
position in the market."