Symbian revenues double as overseas sales take off

Symbian, the mobile phones software developer spun off from Psion, more than doubled revenues in the six months to 30 June as overseas sales of its data-enabled phones topped 2.68 million.

The British-based company, which is still 25 per cent owned by Psion, has been tipped to float once it reaches 20 million in volume sales.

Yesterday it said total revenues increased to £21.1m in the first half from £9.5m in the same period a year ago. The operating figures had been widely expected by the market, helping fuel a 9 per cent rise in Psion shares over the past week. Psion's shares closed yesterday at 80p.

Symbian, whose owners include Nokia, Motorola and Ericsson, has repeatedly said it will not consider an initial public offering until there is sufficient stock market stability and a thriving, established demand for its products.

"There are two conditions that need to be met before an IPO can be considered," said a Symbian spokesman.

"They are stability in financial markets and the establishment of a volume market for Symbian products."

Despite the surge in revenues, analysts said a stock market float was still distant, with most estimating the company will not even break even until 2005 at the earliest. To achieve the break even point Symbian must ship around 20 million units per year.

David Levin, chief executive of Symbian, said the company had made "good progress" in the first half of the year. He added that sales of Symbian "smartphones" was encouraging, though they still remained modest compared to overall mobile phone sales.

It competes with Microsoft in providing operating systems for so-called smartphones, which are based on next generation technology, offer customers extra applications such as the java operating system and multi-media messaging.

Analysts estimate Symbian's handset shipments may reach 8 million this year, less than the 10 million forecast by Nokia, which owns 19 per cent of the wireless-software maker.

Ten Symbian-based devices are currently on the market, including two next-generation phones in Japan.

A further 26 models are being developed and most of these will be in shops within the next 18 months, the company said. Symbian receives a royalty of about $6 (£3.80) for each device.

Symbian was set up as a joint venture by eight companies to develop new generation technology through Smartphones and Communicators.