Nokia Gains Control of Symbian

Nokia Corp. is taking control of smart-phone software company Symbian Ltd.

Nokia Corp. is taking control of smart-phone software company Symbian Ltd. The Espoo, Finland, phone vendor plans to buy all Psion plc.s shares in the London-based Symbian, officials said last week. The deal is expected to close in the next few months.

Psion, also of London, will receive $250 million for its 31.1 percent stake, which will give Nokia a 63 percent stake in Symbian. This is the second major share sale for Symbian in five months. In September, Motorola Inc. sold its 20 percent stake in the company, expressing plans to focus on Java- and Linux-based handsets. Ericsson AB, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., Matsushita Electric Corp. of America (Panasonic), Siemens Enterprise Networks LLC and Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications AB also own stakes in Symbian, which was founded in 1998.

Nokia has been the biggest proponent of the Symbian operating system because its Series 60 development platform runs on top of it.

"It is vital to sustain Symbians long-term market success in order to enable healthy competition and to stimulate innovation," said Pertti Korhonen, chief technology officer of Nokia, in a statement.

Analysts have mixed opinions about Nokias Symbian share.

"In some ways, I think its a good thing," said Fran Rabuck, president of Rabuck Associates, in Philadelphia, and an eWEEK Corporate Partner. "By allowing at least one major phone manufacturer to take control of it, it will be easier to create the standard. Even if it becomes proprietary, I dont see the others going and heading into other corners."

However, Tole Hart, an analyst at Gartner Inc., in New York, disagreed, saying, "The other equipment manufacturers will be more likely to turn to other operating systems like Palm OS and Linux."

Psion plans to focus exclusively on its Teklogix hardware business, which is the only business it has left, according to company officials.

Last month, Psion sold its software business to Visto Corp.

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