Symbian aims for the mass market

The mobile OS maker wants all phones to be smart, at least on the inside

Symbian's newly crowned chief executive, Nigel Clifford, has reiterated his company's commitment to mid-tier phones and promised to smarten up the market as a whole.

Speaking on Tuesday at the Smartphone Show, Clifford said Symbian's chief ambition remains to target the middle ground of handsets. "It's a key issue for us, moving beyond the smartphone niche," he said.

"We want to move beyond the niche to mid-tier, high-volume phones... We're working hard to make that a reality."

It seems the Symbian boss has plans to expand the mobile operating system as far as possible. He said: "Our ambition is to keep the smart in smartphone... and take it and embed it in every phone out there."

Clifford rejected the idea that such a populist stance will mean dumbing down, however. "The mood is one of making smartphone s more available to more people. It's not dumbing down. We don't regard it as a smartphone — actually it shouldn't be regarded as a high-end niche, it should be 'business as usual' for all phones."

The idea of smartphone s becoming the norm has long been predicted by industry watchers. However, despite encouraging stats from analysts — such as Gartner's prediction that, by 2009, when there will be a billion smartphone s in the world, 85 percent of them will be running Symbian — Clifford said the company won't get too big for its boots.

"We are not complacent," he said. "They are great figures but they are great figures in the early state of the market. It's the end of the beginning."

Clifford added: "We focus our effort 100 percent on one part of the value chain. If we don't do it well, we go out of business. It's Darwinism."