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Nokia takes back control of Symbian software

Nokia will assume full control of the Symbian operating system, retaking management of a key asset which it had given to the open source community to run only a few years ago.

Nokia said on Monday it would take care of Symbian platform development from April 2011 onwards, while the cross-industry Symbian Foundation will in the future take care of only licensing of the software.

Nokia bought out other shareholders in Symbian in 2008 and opened the software for any manufacturers to use for free on an open-source basis. But it failed to win wide adoption and this year Samsung Electronics and Sony Ericsson abandoned it in favor of Google's Android.

"As other licensees have abandoned Symbian, Nokia had little option but to take full control," said Ben Wood, head of research at CCS Insight.

The Finnish handset maker has remained the key contributor to the development of the software and has created some 95 percent of sales volumes of Symbian phones.

"It is a natural evolution of Symbian ... Nokia's success in the low- and medium-end of the smartphone market has forced its competitors to go for Android or Microsoft," said John Strand, founder and chief of Danish telecoms consultancy Strand Consult.

MKM Partners' analyst Tero Kuittinen said: "After Samsung and Sony Ericsson pulled their Symbian support, it was probably only a matter of time before Symbian became a de facto Nokia-only operating system.

"I believe there are signs of Nokia de-emphasizing Symbian development and putting more emphasis behind Meego for 2011 -- it's possible that Nokia is now switching into maintenance mode with Symbian instead of aggressively developing it," he said.

Symbian continues to lead the mobile market with a 37 percent share in the third quarter, but this is well down on levels just two years ago.

Its closest rival, Google's Android, had 17 percent of the market last quarter, just ahead of Apple, according to research firm Canalys.

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