Symbian says smartphones on track

Consortium says hardware should appear on schedule, despite Psion warning

Symbian, the smartphone consortium led by Psion (quote: PON), Nokia, Motorola and Ericsson, said Thursday its licensees' devices are still scheduled to ship on time this year, despite a warning by Psion of "industry-wide delays in volume product rollout".

Symbian said its upgrades to the smartphone platform are rolling out as planned, but said product rollouts are up to licensees. "From our point of view, in terms of the software and technology, it's been on track," said Paul Cockerton, head of marketing communications for Symbian. "We are delivering on time, and from our point of view that's what's important."

Earlier Thursday Psion said that delays to mass takeup of Symbian smartphones would affect Psion's bottom line. Psion developed the EPOC operating system that is now owned by Symbian and used in smartphones such as Ericsson's R380 and Nokia's 9210 Communicator. The R380 is available now and the Communicator is planned to ship in volume in the first half of the year.

Cockerton said more Symbian-based products, such as smartphones integrating GPRS (General Packet Radio Service), are due in the second half of the year. Symbian is relying on GPRS, which allows for an always-on connection to the Internet, to boost mass takeup of its devices.

The most current Symbian phones are based on release 6.0 of the platform. Symbian has also begun delivering release 6.1 to its developers and expects to complete the release this quarter. Products based on 6.1, the first release to include GPRS support, are expected to appear on the market in the second half of the year.

Psion is continuing to invest heavily in Symbian and said Thursday an additional round of equity financing worth £20m would be completed this month. The company announced Thursday it would drop a planned smartphone device it had been co-developing with Motorola and would cut staff.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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