Nokia to stop shipping Symbian smartphones this summer

Symbian was once the biggest mobile operating system in the world, but Nokia appears set to stop new shipments of devices based on the Symbian OS this summer as sales taper off.

Nokia's 808 PureView

Nokia sold just 500,000 Symbian units during the first quarter of 2013, compared to 5.6 million Windows-based Lumia smartphones in the same period. While Nokia said it is unable to confirm when Symbian shipments will stop, sources noted it is a fair assumption that shipments will come to an end over the summer given the low shipments in the first quarter, as reported earlier by the Financial Times.

"The last Symbian phone we introduced was the Nokia 808 PureView and that's fitting," said a Nokia spokesperson. "This phone extended the platform's pioneering tradition, and acted as a bridge for the next wave of innovation now seen in our latest models, like the Lumia 925."

The news is not exactly a surprise, given that Nokia has embraced Microsoft's Windows Phone as its primary smartphone platform and is heavily pushing its Lumia-branded Windows Phones. In January, Nokia's fourth-quarter 2012 earnings report revealed its Symbian efforts were finished: "The Nokia 808 PureView, a device which showcases our imaging capabilities and which came to market in mid-2012, was the last Symbian device from Nokia," the company stated.

Kantar Worldpanel estimates that Symbian held a European market share of about 1.8 per cent in the three months to April, down from 8 per cent in the year before. It still accounts for about 2 per cent of the vast Chinese market, according to the Financial Times. Research firm Gartner said in May that Symbian made up just 0.6 percent of the global smartphone market in the first quarter of 2013, down from 8.5 percent in the year-ago period, an indication how steeply sales have fallen off in the last year.

Nokia is now placing its hopes on the up-market Lumia smartphones and lower cost Asha range. While Symbian remains popular in some emerging markets, Nokia is targeting that market with its Asha OS, which touts a smartphone-caliber user experience optimized for limited-resource hardware. Asha leverages technologies developed by Smarterphone, which Nokia acquired in late 2011

Nokia's latest device, the Lumia 925, has just gone on sale in Germany, with other European markets, China and the United States set to follow soon. Vodafone Germany is already listing the smartphone on its online store, offering it for €1 with a premium Vodafone Red plan plus a €29.99 one-off connection charge. O2 Germany is charging a one-off €19 fee for the device on its O2 Blue M plan, while Telekom is also offering a €1 fee on a Complete Comfort contract.

It is also already possible to pre-order the Nokia 925 from Vodafone UK, 3UK and O2 UK.

A new feature on the Lumia 925 is a beta version of Nokia Glance Screen, which brings back the ability to see the time and the battery level indicator on the screen when the phone is not used.

The device includes Nokia Music, a service launched by Nokia in 2011, as the vendor lost no time in pointing out following the launch this week of Apple's iTunes Radio. "It's interesting to see Apple react now and it seems they continue to play catch up," said Jyrki Rosenberg, vice president of entertainment at Nokia, according to various reports and on Twitter. "Nokia Music will stay true to our mobile-first approach and continue to deliver an extremely simple, personalised and contextual way to discover and enjoy music on the go."

For more:
- see this FT article (sub. req.)
- see this Daily Telegraph article

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