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.