When Sony Ericsson originally announced its intentions to open up UIQ to outside ownership there was some skepticism, but with this announce Sony Ericsson has impressively delivered on its intentions in a relatively short time period. With joint ownership UIQ is not obviously tied to one company, in contrast to S60, which should make it more attractive to other potential licensees.
UIQ now has two of the top mobile phone manufacturers as owners which represents a very significant strength and now looks set to emerge as a significant rival to Windows Mobile, and S60 in the coming years. Compared to the apparent stagnation under Symbian ownership this is a very impressive turn round.
Motorola's Symbian story has now come full circle as it is one again a share holder in a key part of the Symbian ecosystem.
The new deal is subject to regulatory approval, but the necessary contracts have been signed, and no problems are envisioned.
At the press conference announcing the new shareholding Miles Flint, CEO of Sony Ericsson, reaffirmed Sony Ericsson's commitment to produce more high end devices based on UIQ, but also stressed that future strategy saw UIQ moving down into lower costs devices and that UIQ phones would be a substantial part of the overall portfolio of phones.
Alain Mutricy, Senior Vice President, Platforms, Motorola Mobile Devices said that UIQ would not be replacing any part of Motorola's platform strategy, but was in addition to Motorola's existing activities. UIQ will be used by Motorola in high end multimedia devices such as Motorola's existing UIQ phone, the MOTO Z8. Motorola's other major modern software platform is a Linux Java platform (called MOTOMAGX).
Johan Sandberg, CEO of UIQ Technology, explained that UIQ Technology has grown in the last 8 months. It has more than doubled the number of employees and opened new offices in Budapest and London. This growth is set to continue with both Motorola and Sony Ericsson continuing to invest in UIQ Technology.
All parties stressed that UIQ remained open to new shareholders and that with potential future shareholders the shareholding would continue to be diluted equally. Similarly the governing board would be split between any potential owners.
UIQ is currently seeking an independent chairman would will preside over a board made up of representatives from Motorola and Sony Ericsson.
We will bring your further information and analysis in due course.
Press release extract:
Sony Ericsson and Motorola, Inc. (NYSE:MOT) today announced a definitive agreement under which Motorola will acquire a 50% interest in UI Holdings BV, the parent company of UIQ Technology AB, which is currently wholly owned by Sony Ericsson. Under the agreement, Motorola and Sony Ericsson will work together and jointly invest in the development of the UIQ open user interface platform. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. As previously announced, Sony Ericsson acquired UIQ Technology from Symbian Ltd in February 2007.
Both companies have agreed that UIQ will be vendor and chipset independent. In addition, UIQ will be licensed on equal terms to all mobile device vendors in the industry. Sony Ericsson and Motorola are committed to expanding the shareholder base of UI Holdings to include other handset vendors.
Alain Mutricy, Senior Vice President, Platforms, Motorola Mobile Devices stated: "Motorola's investment in UIQ will enable us to bring featurecompetitive multimedia devices to market. Its flexibility will enable us to bring devices to market that meet regional preferences or specific operator customisation requirements. We look forward to working closely with our partners, Sony Ericsson and UIQ."
Johan Sandberg, CEO of UIQ Technology, said, "We are extremely excited to be working closely with Motorola and Sony Ericsson, two well-established industry leaders. UIQ offers a truly personal and rich user experience plus important flexibility for developers, operators and phone vendors as it supports many form factors in one code base. UIQ has benefited greatly from our partnership with Sony Ericsson and we are confident that Motorola's interest will create new and important growth opportunities for UIQ, our customers, employees and consumers around the world".
The full press release is available on the UIQ website .