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iPhone Challenges Symbian, but Symbian Fights Back

Symbian has released data for the first half of the year and the second quarter of 2008 that shows it has met the iPhone challenge and is still on top. That’s what happens when you have 159 devices shipping with your operating system and are a mainstay OS for Nokia, which has captured 39.5 percent of the handset market.

During the second quarter, Symbian launched on 19.6 million devices, up just 5 percent from 18.7 million for the same period the year before. From April to June 2008, Apple said it sold 717,000 iPhones up from 270,000 in the same period in 2007 for growth of 166 percent. Awesome growth, but it’s easy to grow from nothing (the iPhone launched in June 2007), and the overall market share for the iPhone and its OS is still tiny. Especially  if you recall that Gartner estimated that 304.7 million phones shipped during the second quarter, giving Symbian a 6.4 percent market share and the iPhone OS a 0.2 percent share.

Symbian also reported that it had 92 phone models in development (the highest ever achieved), an increase of 48 percent on the 62 models in development during Q2 2007. But revenue from royalties in the second quarter of 2008 were down to $3.4 million from $4.3 million for the same period in 2007, as Symbian strives to adapt to a more dynamic environment for mobile operating systems by shifting its royalty fees.

Without a highly publicized App Store, the 9,834 applications developed for the Symbian OS (up 25 percent from the second quarter of 2007), aren’t getting the attention the more than 2,500 iPhone applications receive, but they are still growing at a good clip. The iPhone may get many of the headlines, but Symbian isn’t crying uncle yet.

17 Responses to “iPhone Challenges Symbian, but Symbian Fights Back”

  1. the OS behind the Nokia handsets among others and to forget about it is asking for trouble. GigaOM has the details of the latest sales figures from Symbian. If you’re looking for a touch phone

  2. while the Ijoke is a impressive piece of technology, it still lacks basic features that other manufactures have been doing for many years now. I just wish the apple fanboys will realize that their beloved device is just a glorified ipood, that can make calls.

  3. I will agree with a couple points from the other commenters. Firstly, yes the iPhone is a great web browser. And the OS is buttery smooth for the most part(when it decides to respond at all…). And the uptake from non-smart phone users has been great. I view it mostly as an upgrade for RAZR users, because people who have used a real smart phone won’t enjoy the iPhone’s limitations.

    It would seem that most of these comment authors are suffering from Silicon Valley blindness. Nokia has over 35% of the world wide smart phone market. In terms of pure numbers India, Africa and China have 10x the mobile users compared to the United States. Nokia is the #1 Brand in India. Not #1 mobile phone brand, #1 Brand! People trust Nokia.

    For developers complaining about Symbian not being open enough, compared to what? Apple? From apple you’ll get a $99 SDK, and if you write the correct type of app, you *might* get included in the Apple App Store. Nokia has open-sourced Symbian. You can develop apps for Symbian in six programming languages, all SDK’s, emulators and test tools are free. Apple is a walled garden at best.

    In terms of raw hardware power, the original N95, now almost two years old, *crushes* the iPhone. If you want to create media with a pocketable device, an Nseries Nokia device will get you further than an iPhone.

    It’s true that iPhone fanboys are, ahem, fanatic about the iPhone. But look at the numbers. I’d be really surprised if the iPhone EVER gets 1/6th of the market share that Nokia commands. You can quote me on that.

  4. “…It’s easy to grow from nothing…”

    No, based on the rest of your article, I could only surmise that it’s quite difficult to grow smart-phone OS marketshare from nothing. But Apple seems to be doing admirably. Check the latest phone web-browser marketshare stats. There, Apple seems to be leading the pack already.


  5. Symbian is a collection of drivers with a horrible GUI. They are dead but like a headless chicken they are running around. Nokia sells expensive phones that often crash but no internet or multimedia devices.

  6. >>>”Without a highly publicized App Store, the 9,834 applications developed for the Symbian OS (up 25 percent from the second quarter of 2007), aren’t getting the attention the more than 2,500 iPhone applications receive,”<<<

    Of course symbian is responsible for it. As a developer I can say symbian has far strong architecture for development than any other platform but they do not open their APIs to developers for developing real good application(all locked under capabilities that you will have never access to unless you are OEM yourself).

    Symbian does not care about developers. They are too arrogant and think that they are doing a big favour to developers. They do not realize if developers develop a good application for their platform users will adopt it more and more. Windows being a crap OS holds largest market share because it is so easy to develop application on that and we use so many applications developed on windows that its hard to leave it as those application are not available on Mac/Linux. Not sure when will symbian realize that platform who has the best application will win. They were market leader because no one else was there but situation is changing very fast and they should realize it.

    I would say as a developer that being the strongest platform for development SYMBIAN SUCKS.

  7. Ram Krishnan

    Symbian may be growing in terms of units and volumes but iPhone is still the platform that people prefer to browse and consume content. Isn’t that what a smartphone is all about? As I point out in my blog entry, iPhone’s market share as far as browsing goes far exceeds those of Symbian and Windows Mobile, with its small user base notwithstanding!