Sharp and Fujitsu unveil 11 new Symbian phones

HELSINKI Tue Nov 9, 2010 9:09am EST

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HELSINKI (Reuters) - Japan's Fujitsu Ltd and Sharp Corp unveiled 11 new smartphone models running Symbian software on Tuesday, a rare show of support for Nokia's waning software platform.

Though Symbian is the largest smartphone operating system, on more than 400 million such phones since 2000, it has lost ground since the introduction of Apple's iPhone in 2007, and Japan is the only market where other manufacturers than Nokia are still taking it on.

Over the last year Samsung Electronics and Sony Ericsson have abandoned using Symbian.

On Monday Nokia said it would take over development of the platform from April 2011, resuming management of a key asset it gave to the independent Symbian Foundation to run only a few years ago.

Ben Wood, research director at British consultancy CCS Insight, said Japanese manufacturers had effectively created their own version of Symbian and were likely to continue using it despite Nokia taking control of it.

"On this basis, it is likely they will continue to forge their own path. However, this approach does not deliver the economies of scale Nokia envisaged at the inception of the Symbian Foundation," Wood said.

Although Nokia receives no direct benefit from other makers using the platform, its own portfolio is helped by the breadth of independent software developed for use on the phone, which in turn is increased by a bigger user base.

(Reporting by Tarmo Virki; Editing by Will Waterman)

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