News round-up: Palm & NTP, UIQ & Sony Ericsson, Verizon & YouTube

There are several news items this week which reflect trends in mobile user experience issues.

Sony Ericsson to acquire UIQ

Firstly, Sony Ericsson has announced it will acquire UIQ Technologies. UIQ provides an interface and applications layer which sits on top of the Symbian OS and delivers the graphical look and feel of devices like the P900 series and M600. Sony Ericsson’s reliance on UIQ is increasing as it incorporates it in more and more of its products, driven by UIQ 3.0’s enhanced support for single-handed interaction and multiple interface modes within the same device.

The acquisition of UIQ will place Sony Ericsson in a similar position to Nokia, which owns the Series 60 platform it uses for the interface layer of its Symbian devices. Of course, both Nokia and Sony Ericsson are investors in Symbian, with Nokia owning the largest single share.

UIQ has struggled to gain mass market acceptance for its platform, despite its technical prowess, and it would appear the Sony Ericsson move is driven by financial necessity. It’s unlikely Sony Ericsson’s ownership of the platform will help UIQ’s spread, just as Nokia has found its ownership of Series 60 a barrier to widespread adoption.

Ironically, UIQ was originally developed by Ericsson’s Ronneby Labs, which were acquired by Symbian. When Symbian decided to step away from defining the interface layer and concentrate on the core OS, it spun UIQ off into a wholly-owned subsidary. Sony Ericsson’s acquisition brings the UIQ story full circle and returns the venture to its Swedish roots.

NTP suing Palm

Investors in Palm are on the edge of their seats after NTP, the patent holding company best known for winning a USD 600m settlement from Research In Motion, said they had filed a suit against the maker of the Treo handhelds. While NTP has every right to defend its intellectual property, the litigous environment in th market for wireless email devices is becoming a major headache for the industry and holding back corporate acceptance.

YouTube and Verizon close to deal

According to this Reuters report, Verizon is close to a deal with YouTube which will see the company offering selected content through its cable television and mobile channels. Speculation has been rife over YouTube’s mobile strategy, especially since its acquisition by Google. An exclusive deal would be a major coup for Verizon, helping to boost interest in mobile video services.

There are also rumours that MySpace is pursuing distribution partnerships with several mobile operators around the world after the expiry of its exclusive deal with US MVNO Helio.

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