Sony Ericsson Drops Symbian OS for Android OS

Google's Android OS gets a boost as Sony Ericsson announces it is dropping Symbian for the open-source Android OS.

In the latest blow to its attempt to hang onto the top position for mobile phone operating systems, Sony Ericsson announced it would no longer support the Symbian operating system.

"We have no plans for the time being to develop any new products to the Symbian Foundation standard or operating system," company spokesman Aldo Liguori told Sony Ericsson plans to move toward Google's open-source Android, which has been gaining traction in the smartphone OS marketplace. Symbian OS is best known as one of Nokia's mobile operating systems for mobile devices and smartphones.

Liguori told the news organization despite dropping support for Symbian, the company would remain a member of the Symbian Foundation and noted Android would become an important, if not exclusive, part of Sony Ericsson's strategy going forward. The Symbian Foundation is a non-profit organization that stewards the Symbian platform and was founded by Nokia, Sony Ericsson, NTT DoCoMo, Motorola, Texas Instruments, Vodafone, LG Electronics, Samsung Electronics, STMicroelectronics and AT&T.

In July, Microsoft announced the general availability of its Silverlight technology for the Symbian operating system. Microsoft said it is making the Silverlight tools available for Symbian developers via the Nokia Ovi Store. Microsoft initially announced plans to deliver Silverlight for Symbian in 2008 and later released a beta of the technology in March 2010. In addition, Microsoft officials said this release marks the first time that Silverlight is shipping on a non-Microsoft mobile device platform, and the challenge of bringing Silverlight to Nokia's fifth-edition devices lays the foundation for bringing Silverlight to any other mobile platforms in future.

According to a recent report from IT research firm Gartner, the Android mobile operating system will soon claim second place in worldwide OS deployment after Symbian, edging past Research In Motion and Apple's iOS in 2010. The research firm said marketing and vendor support from carriers would drive Android to 17.7 percent market share through 2010. Though the growth is impressive, Android's market penetration still falls far short of Symbian, which boasts a 40.1 percent plot thanks to Nokia's legacy volume of phones.

Nokia led the handset market in the second quarter of 2010, with a 36.1 percent market share, and saw shipments rise to 111.1 million from 107.8 million units the quarter before. However, the company faced criticism from research firm Strategy Analytics for its annual 8 percent growth-which was just under the industry average. "We estimate Nokia's global market share of legitimate handset shipments dipped to 36 percent, compared with 38 percent a year earlier," Strategy Analytics analyst Neil Mawston wrote in a July report.

A report earlier this month from research firm IDC said the overall market for smartphones is due to increase 24.5 percent in 2011, with rapid growth only leveling off by 2014. Some 119.4 million smartphones shipped during the first half of 2010, an increase of 55.5 percent over the same period in 2009. The firm said it expects Android's smartphone market share to increase from 16.3 percent to 24.6 percent between 2010 and 2014.