UIQ’s final flurry

20. UIQ’s final flurry

UIQ and S60 had each come to life at about the same time, in 2002. UIQ was publicly announced at the Mobile World Congress event (then known as “3GSM”) in Cannes in February 2002:

Symbian announces UIQ user interface application for Symbian OS

3GSM, CANNES, February 19, 2002…

UIQ provides a user interface for small pen-based phones being implemented by a number of handset manufacturers.

“With the UIQ application user interface, Symbian has provided its licensees with a flexible user interface that will enable them to market a variety of diversified phones using a common technology base,” said Johan Sandberg, General Manager Symbian AB. “UIQ brings with it a richer multimedia environment and more intuitive interactivity that will change the way people look at their personal communication devices.”

UIQ is based upon Symbian OS v.7.0 and was designed for peer-to-peer messaging, including Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS). MMS offers the ability to send rich messaging objects such as text, pictures and audio to both mobile users with MMS enabled devices and email users. Other applications and services include unified contacts, an intuitive agenda, high-resolution web page delivery and synchronisation over the air using the open SyncML standard.

“Sony Ericsson’s goal is to develop mobile multimedia products that are easy to use, and fun to use”, said Anil Raj, Corporate Executive Vice President of Sony Ericsson. “The wide range of applications and features available on this new generation of products make the user interface even more important and the new UIQ will be important for the user experience”, said Mr Raj.

Despite the talk in the press release about UIQ-based phones “being implemented by a number of handset manufacturers”, there was only one handset manufacturer quoted in the press release: Sony Ericsson. Over subsequent years, Sony Ericsson were persistently the greatest supporters of UIQ. As mentioned in previous chapters, Motorola varied in the degree of interest they showed in UIQ. A number of Taiwanese companies became UIQ licensees too – BenQ, Arima, and Quanta – but none of these companies achieved significant sales with any of their UIQ products. The task of cheer-leading for UIQ remained with Sony Ericsson.

The situation with S60 was broadly similar – it, too, had one main cheer-leader licensee: Nokia. Series 60 had been publicly announced three months earlier than UIQ – in November 2001, at the Las Vegas Comdex tradeshow:

Nokia to license a mobile terminal software platform and client components to handset vendors

Comdex, Las Vegas, November 12, 2001 – Nokia today announced it will license separate terminal client components and a smartphone software platform to mobile handset manufacturers. Nokia will offer a number of terminal client components to the industry, including MMS and SMS clients, WAP/XHTML browser and a SyncML-based synchronization engine. In addition, Nokia introduced the Series 60 Platform for application and feature driven mobile devices. The new platform is designed for Symbian OS and will support mobile browsing, multimedia messaging and content downloading, as well as a host of personal information management and telephony applications.

“Nokia’s decision to make its terminal software platform and client components available to other manufacturers is a concrete example of Nokia’s commitment to an industry-wide initiative, where the key stakeholders will work together to create an open mobile services market,” said Pertti Korhonen, Senior Vice President, Mobile Software, Nokia. Together with AT&T Wireless, Cingular Wireless, MM02, NTT DoCoMo, Telefonica Moviles, Fujitsu, Matsushita, Mitsubishi, Motorola, NEC, Sharp, Sony Ericsson and Toshiba, Nokia has today introduced an initiative committing to create a global and open mobile software and services market.

The terminal client components will be open software modules that can be run on the manufacturers’ own operating systems, while the Series 60 Platform is intended for integration with Symbian OS mobile devices. These terminal client components and the Series 60 Platform will be available as source-code products, open to modifications by licensees.

“The Series 60 Platform illustrates Nokia’s long-term and industry leading expertise in usability and user understanding together with best-of-breed terminal client software, application and user interface development,” continued Pertti Korhonen. “The Series 60 Platform is based on open technologies that ensure the interoperability among mobile devices, network infrastructure and content. Interoperability is the only way to create a large, unified application market for new mobile services. Also, our governance and licensing model is built in such a way that it will create a dynamic and competitive marketplace where all licensees will have a fair chance to participate and contribute.”

The Series 60 Platform is designed for phone categories providing users with easy-to-use, one-hand operated handsets characterized by color screens, rich communications and enhanced applications. The licensees will be able to integrate the software platform into their own application-driven phone designs and thus speed up the rollout of new phone models at lower cost. The Series 60 Platform consists of the key telephony and personal information management applications, browser and messaging clients, a complete and modifiable user interface, all designed to run on top of the Symbian OS, an operating system for advanced, data enabled mobile phones.

“The creation of mass mobile phone markets is being driven through alignment on open standards to create products that meet customer needs and desires. Nokia’s Series 60 Platform, on top of the advanced, open standard Symbian OS, increases opportunities for handset vendors. Providing a standardized set of services and applications will help to broaden the appeal of data enabled mobile phones for consumers. This is a good step to moving the mass market to Symbian OS phones,” said Colly Myers, CEO, Symbian.

The S60 announcement evidently carried considerably more power than the UIQ one. This disparity in power was to be a permanent feature of the relations between the two UI systems. Compared to Sony Ericsson’s level of investment in UIQ software, Nokia consistently put many more resources behind S60. In part, this reflected the overall market dominance of Nokia, compared to Sony Ericsson. Whereas in the 1990s, Nokia and Ericsson had enjoyed broadly similar market share for mobile phones, the balance had changed dramatically by the next decade. Nokia was rolling in profits, whereas Ericsson’s mobile phone group (subsequently part of Sony Ericsson) was running closer to financial breakeven.

S60 out-performed UIQ in another aspect – the number of devices sold. Especially after the Typhoon project which allowed Nokia to create their best-selling 6610 “Calimero” device, a larger and larger proportion of Symbian units sold were from S60.

The difference in sales volumes was mirrored by the differences in the roadmap plans for forthcoming plans that we saw from our licensees from time to time. Nokia’s roadmaps for new S60 products were typically laden with variants, extensions, and innovative combination products. In contrast, the roadmaps from other licensees tended to be modest and more tentative.

However, that was not the end of the matter. UIQ had the advantage of built-in pen support, and could cope more easily with larger screens. The following seemed a credible scenario:

[ SNIP ]

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