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Last Updated: Friday, 29 August, 2003, 07:03 GMT 08:03 UK
Motorola to pull out of Symbian
Symbian logo and phones
US cellphone and chip giant Motorola is pulling out of the Symbian mobile phone software alliance.

The US company is in talks to sell its share to Nokia, the world's biggest mobile manufacturer, and to Psion, the former handheld computer maker.

Should the talks go as planned, the two will end up owning more than 30% of Symbian each.

The move may not surprise some keen observers, following rumours in the IT business that Motorola was cooling toward Symbian and hedging its bets with software giant Microsoft - and with building phones based on the open-source Linux system.

Two-way street

Motorola is not ditching Symbian, however.

It has several Symbian-based products - including a 3G phone for the UK's 3 network - in the pipeline, and continues to be a licensee of the operating system.

The alliance itself has attracted numerous other backers in recent years, including Matsushita, Samsung and Siemens.

There is nothing to stop manufacturers working on products from both systems, and indeed Symbian is always keen to stress that there is no zero-sum game at work.

Motorola A920 phone
Motorola's first Symbian phone
Still, following the deal, the alliance will be even more dominated by Nokia - which at present holds 19% - and Psion, whose current holding is 25.3%.

Nokia has not put a cost on its acquisition, but Psion says it is planning to pay 17.4m for its extra 4.8%.


Motorola was a founding member of Symbian, along with Nokia, Psion and Ericsson.

The four started the firm with the aim of coming up with software to power the smartphones that they saw as representing the future of the mobile business.

They also wanted to make sure that Microsoft could not extend its domination of the desktop and laptop world into mobiles, since hardware makers in the PC business make much slimmer margins than those in the mobile world.

Smartphones - which include cameras, calendars, email facilities and other functions - are now an established and lucrative part of the mobile market, and many are powered by Symbian's operating system.

Microsoft has had a hard time finding partners to use its own Smartphone software, and several big prospects including South Korea's Samsung have switched sides to back the Symbian camp.

One of its erstwhile partners, Sendo in the UK, has even alleged that Microsoft brought it on board simply to extract its know-how, in order to pass it onto other licensees.

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