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12/7/2007
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Motorola Taps TAT's Cascades For Cell Phone UI

Future handset details are under wraps, but the designer's rendering engine, Kastor, is used for advanced layouts, animations, and special effects.

Motorola on Friday signed an agreement to license a software technology platform from The Astonishing Tribe AB, a Swedish designer of graphical user interfaces, for use in select mobile devices.

The Astonishing Tribe, which markets itself under the name TAT, will supply Motorola with its Cascades technology, allowing the phone maker to create a range of application user interfaces that can be customized for different market segments and device types, according to TAT.

"TAT Cascades offers flexibility across form factors and input methods and enables rich visual effects -- we look forward to leveraging it as one of our UI framework solutions for future products," said Elizabeth Altman, VP of strategy and business development at Motorola, in a statement.

Neither company has provided specific details about availability of devices with TAT's software or the markets where these devices will be launched.

But TAT does offer clues to what the future devices might look like: Cascades utilizes a design principle that separates the application logic from its appearance, and uses a programming model that reduces the amount and the complexity of code. Cascades also uses TAT's rendering engine, Kastor, for advanced layouts, animations, and special effects.

While the license agreement is a positive development for Motorola, the company has been going through major organizational changes and losing market share to competitors.

Motorola slipped from the being world's second-largest supplier of mobile phones to the No. 3 spot, according to its third quarter figures. The company's global market share decreased from 20.7% to 13.1% year-over-year. Meanwhile, Samsung's market share rose to 14.5% and Nokia continues to lead, accounting for 38.1% of the global market share.

Last month, Motorola's board of directors announced that chief executive Ed Zander will be stepping down from his post to be replaced by president and COO Greg Brown. Then this week, it lost another top-level executive when Cisco Systems hired Padmasree Warrior, Motorola's former head of technology.

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