A new report from Juniper Research finds that recent concern over the future health of the Symbian platform may be ill-judged, with the analyst firm predicting that it will remain the dominant mobile operating system (OS) for the next five years. Juniper expects shipments of open source Symbian handsets to more than double between now and 2014, reaching 180 million (up from 87 million today). Although Juniper asserts that the platform faces strong competition in a smartphone marketplace increasingly targeting consumers, ‘prosumers,’ as well as corporate customers, Symbian’s overall market share will remain virtually unchanged over that period. According to Gartner, Symbian held a 51 percent share of the smartphone OS market in 2Q09. Recent reports talking up the heavily-hyped Android platform (from Google), and Apple’s iPhone OS, have suggested that the Symbian platform may struggle to maintain dominance. A move announced in August by Nokia – traditionally Symbian’s biggest supporter – to use Windows in its upcoming netbook and Linux in its N900 smartphone has also fuelled such concern.

Juniper adds that Symbian’s growth, allied to a steady increase in Android and LiMo OS shipments, will push the total open source handset market beyond 220 million by 2014 (from 106 million this year). Although rival platforms from Apple, RIM, Microsoft and Palm use proprietary operating systems, Juniper notes that, with over 60 percent of the smartphone market now using an open source OS, there has been a significant shift in position from proprietary to open source.