UIQ Shuttering Its Operations

Although the company is shutting down, parts of the mobile operating system will live on in the open source Symbian.
UIQ Technology has filed for financial assistance, and the company responsible for licensing the UIQ user interface for Symbian smartphones said it will shut down.

The move isn't much of a surprise, as its joint owners, Motorola and Sony Ericsson, dropped support for the platform last year. Motorola, in the midst of a massive restructuring effort, said it would rely on a homegrown Linux OS for low-end phones, Android for midlevel phones, and Windows Mobile for its smartphones. Sony Ericsson also is facing tough business months ahead, and it has committed to Windows Mobile and Symbian.

But it became clear that UIQ would probably not survive once Nokia purchased Symbian with the goal of turning it into an open source, royalty-free operating system. The new Symbian will combine elements of UIQ, S60, and DoCoMo's Mobile Oriented Applications Platform, and handsets will be commercially available in 2010.

Before Nokia's open source Symbian announcement, UIQ was having trouble gaining traction. While it was featured on smartphones like the Sony Ericsson P series and Motorola's A1000, most Symbian smartphones used the S60 interface.

"There are no opportunities to create a new line of business in the current financial climate," UIQ CEO Johan Sandberg told Reuters.

Symbian is the most widely used smartphone operating system on the planet with nearly 50% of the market, but it's seeing increased competition from Apple, Google's Android, Research In Motion's BlackBerry, and Windows Mobile.

While it is powerful and capable, Symbian is seen as having a slightly outdated user interface compared with the iPhone 3G and newer BlackBerrys. Elements of UIQ could give the new Symbian some visual panache, as well as a stronger focus on touch interface.

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