18 February 2003 South Korean electronics giant Samsung has said it wants to make the mobile operating system of Symbian, the London-based consortium of mobile equipment manufacturers, a standard for all its smartphone devices.
The move is another blow to software giant Microsoft’s ambitions in the wireless software market, which had counted Samsung as the sole big-name licensee for its Smartphone 2002 and Pocket PC Phone Edition software.
“When it comes to Symbian, I think it has greater growth potential, which gives a good advantage to licensees. Symbian has good growth prospects. We’ll try to make it a standard,” said San-Jing Park, vice president of mobile communications at Samsung.
His comments were made on the same day that Samsung announced the purchase of a 5% equity stake in Symbian for £17 million. This follows Samsung’s decision to start licensing the Symbian software in October 2002.
Samsung’s announcement means that Symbian now counts 11 of the world’s leading handset manufacturers as licensees of its software. In contrast, Microsoft only has a limited agreement with Samsung, as well as little-known Taiwanese mobile equipment manufacturer HTC.
As a result of its inability to sign up the major manufacturers, Microsoft has altered its strategy and is now focusing on cutting agreements with mobile operators and low-cost contract manufacturers.
This was highlighted by Microsoft’s announcement yesterday that T-Mobile, the mobile phone division of Deutsche Telekom, will release the first mobile device in the US to run Microsoft’s Pocket PC software. Orange, the network operator owned by France Telecom, has also unveiled a smartphone based on the software giant’s operating system and manufactured by HTC.