Motorola loves UIQ

US handset maker Motorola acquired half the shares in UIQ, the smartphone software unit, from Sony Ericsson. Sony Ericsson had bought UIQ from handset OS maker Symbian last year. UIQ is essentially a graphic interface adding components to the Symbian OS. Symbian in turn is 47.9% owned by Nokia. Under UIQ, native programming can be made in C++ although the software does support the - in the mobile games space - ubiquitous J2ME standard. Motorola's new flagship Z8 (nicknamed "MotoRzr" as in "riser") is running on it already. The battle of the OS giants begins...

It is an interesting move since Moto has been the most active OEM for the use of Linux Mobile: it has released a whole range of phones for the open source OS featuring the penguin. It is also one of the founding fathers of the LiMo Foundation, an initiative it embarked on together with industry heavyweights NTT DoCoMo, Vodafone, Samsung, NEC and Panasonic (and which was recently joined by LG, McAfee, Broadcom, Ericsson and others). Now, I understand that Linux and C++ work together but must admit that my knowledge is more than limited here. It is in any event noteworthy that Motorola goes with a UI based on Symbian rather than straight-forward Linux. Motorola was quick to state that UIQ would only be "one of the actions to support [a] strategy" adding more investment in multimedia product segments.

With hundreds of millions in development cost at stake, it is probably too early to tell but it certainly is a new twist in the quest to uproot Nokia's top position with the Symbian s60 platform. So, what's next?

Oasys out of Chapter 11

Oh, the bliss of creditor protection... US mobile publisher Oasys emerged from Chapter 11 after defaulting on a rather sizable $8m debt earlier this year. They had $2m in assets versus $11.8m in debt. Not good. Now they apparently managed to persuade investors to convert debt into equity and off they go again. It was all - more or less - pre-arranged: their investors Associated Partners and Rock Hill Partners had apparently agreed to swap debt for equity, and agreed some interim funding, which apparently allowed them to continue product development. Sitting tight in the interim, they now managed indeed what they had told, namely to emerge as the Phoenix from the flames. For how long? Heaven knows. They have announced a couple of titles but will find arguably not find it easy to compete against the ever tightening battlefield that is mobile game publishing. They had been quick to assure that they would continue "business as usual" and - in particular - would pay licensors pre- and post-restructuring, which will be crucial if they want to see the light of day.

UNO and Phil Hellmuth poker are good titles. Will they be enough though? Their investors seem to think so: the restructuring plan, which the investors apparently supported, foresaw to turn away from their attempts in the D2C market and want to run as a "normal" ASP and publisher. If they can win the carrier decks, this might just work. However, in the poker category, my dear employer's WPT Texas Hold'Em and Glu's World Series of Poker titles go strong, and Oasys will face an uphill struggle with their title. UNO could be cool though it won't be a home run either. Nonetheless: competition is good though! Go on, guys!