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Sony Ericsson buys Symbian UI

UIQ acquired

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Sony Ericsson has snapped up the UIQ mobile phone user interface, paying Symbian an undisclosed sum for the software and the subsidiary company formed to develop and maintain it.

UIQ was the original user interface for the Symbian operating system until the company decided it should focus on the under-the-hood code and allow phone makers to implement their own UIs if they wish. Most famously, Nokia made just such a move, and developed the precursors to its current Series 60 and Series 80 - aka S60 and S80 - UIs, both of which sit on top of the Symbian OS.

UIQ remained as the UI for Symbian licensees unwilling to develop a user interface of their own. Siemens was originally a UIQ fan, but its support went the way of all flesh when it sold its mobile phone division to BenQ, never a vociferous Symbian supporter. That's left Sony Ericsson as the major UIQ licensee, adding to its P series of smart phones, its M600 smart phone and a number of its higher-end Walkman-branded handsets.

The acquisition, if OK'd by regulatory authorities and shareholders, brings this key resource firmly under Sony Ericsson's control, allowing it to evolve to suit even better the company's hardware. That said, Sony Ericsson will continue to allow other vendors to license UIQ, which will continue to exist as a separate business division within the larger handset company. ®

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