* Nokia fully in charge of Symbian from April 2011
* Other handset vendors have mostly abandoned Symbian
(Add analyst, background, shares)
By Tarmo Virki, European Technology Correspondent
HELSINKI, Nov 8 Nokia Oyj NOK1V.HE will assume
full control of the Symbian operating system, retaking
management of a key asset which it had given to the open source
community to run only a few years ago.
Nokia said on Monday it would take care of Symbian platform
development from April 2011 onwards, while the cross-industry
Symbian Foundation will in the future take care of only
licensing of the software.
Nokia bought out other shareholders in Symbian in 2008 and
opened the software for any manufacturers to use for free on an
open-source basis. But it failed to win wide adoption and this
year Samsung Electronics (005930.KS) and Sony Ericsson
(6758.T)(ERICb.ST) abandoned it in favour of Google's Android.
"As other licensees have abandoned Symbian, Nokia had little
option but to take full control," said Ben Wood, head of
research at CCS Insight.
The Finnish handset maker has remained the key contributor
to the development of the software and has created some 95
percent of sales volumes of Symbian phones.
"It is a natural evolution of Symbian ... Nokia's success in
the low- and medium-end of the smartphone market has forced its
competitors to go for Android or Microsoft," said John Strand,
founder and chief of Danish telecoms consultancy Strand Consult.
MKM Partners' analyst Tero Kuittinen said: "After Samsung
and Sony Ericsson pulled their Symbian support, it was probably
only a matter of time before Symbian became a de facto
Nokia-only operating system.
"I believe there are signs of Nokia de-emphasizing Symbian
development and putting more emphasis behind Meego for 2011 --
it's possible that Nokia is now switching into maintenance mode
with Symbian instead of aggressively developing it," he said.
Symbian continues to lead the mobile market with a 37
percent share in the third quarter, but this is well down on
levels just two years ago.
Its closest rival, Google's (GOOG.O) Android, had 17 percent
of the market last quarter, just ahead of Apple (AAPL.O),
according to research firm Canalys.
Nokia shares rose on the news from earlier lows and closed
0.2 percent lower in Helsinki.
(Reporting by Tarmo Virki; Editing by David Holmes)