Symbian celebrates handset century

The market-leading mobile OS company has shipped its hundredth model, but admits to increasing competition from Microsoft and Linux

The 100th Symbian-powered smartphone model has shipped, the operating system maker announced on Tuesday.

Six years after the Ericsson R380 became the first commercially available handset to use Symbian, the Nokia 3250 has become its (more musically-oriented) hundredth descendent.

The company says it has shipped 70.5 million phones since its formation.

Speaking to ZDNet UK before the announcement, Symbian chief financial officer Thomas Chambers said the milestone comes at a time when the company is beginning to concentrate more on the mass market.

Symbian currently has ten licensees and 66 devices on the market. Chambers told ZDNet UK that 56 more products are currently under development.

He predicted that, in addition to further business models, upcoming Symbian-powered phones would include a TV handset, "more music devices", and handsets sporting 5 megapixel cameras.

Although stressing the company's desire to move further towards consumer devices, he admitted: "Some of this functionality isn't required in the cheapest of cheap phones. But you will see people wanting more from their devices. If you're going to use Symbian you want to do more than make phone calls."

Explaining Symbian's current market dominance, Chambers said the OS "fits the purpose in terms of memory footprint, power consumption, multitasking, multithreading and security".

"It's engineered for mobile phones as a complete solution," he said. "We then work closely with the user interfaces. We have things like UIQ which works on top of Symbian. We're moving into a position where a licensee can take our UI and OS and know they'll work together."

However, he admitted being concerned about increasing competition from Linux and Microsoft.

"We're always worried about Microsoft. It's huge and if it wants to get somewhere it will," he said. "Windows CE is a force to be recognised, but before we get carried away I'd expect to see them sign up some more licensees."

"In terms of coming together and making a device, [Linux] has potential," he added. "The problem is you have to do a lot of work on top of Linux to make a phone."