Odd one this: Motorola (not famed for doing much right in the last few years) and Sony Ericsson (not known for promoting open standards) chose the beautiful and virtual money printing location of The London Law Society to today announce an agreement to co-own open mobile platform UIQ.
The 50/50 split comes after Motorola agreed an unspecified fee with Sony Ericsson to come aboard the platform, which will remain vendor and chipset independent. Under the deal both companies will develop handsets using UIQ in order to promote the development of third party applications (Apple, take note) and uniformity across the mobile phone market.
Naturally, this is a lofty goal and one which will surely draw much scorn from the likes of Nokia, Samsung, Windows Mobile et al, but it is a deal with its heart in the right place. Furthermore, UIQ co-ownership remains an open venture with additional partners welcome to join and shares always divided equally between all companies.
Making a great deal of sense was Miles Flint, president of Sony Ericsson, who said "This is an important transaction that demonstrates the increasing importance of open operating for all handset vendors. By working together in a strong, mutually beneficial partnership, handset vendors can reduce development costs and help operators launch more consistent services with greater efficiency. At the same time, service providers and applications developers benefit from a more robust environment to create compelling end-to-end solutions which benefit consumers by enabling a more personalised user experience." Bravo.
Perhaps predictably, no specific plans - let alone UIQ based handsets - were announced by Motorola and senior company VP Alain Mutricy refused to be even drawn on how many UIQ phones Motorola may have on the market in one year's time.
Of course, the real differentiator would be getting all mobile phone companies to agree on a single open source platform, but since that is never going to happen we'll to have to take what we can get. I personally remain sceptical about how much can come from today's announcement (Motorola now supports three mobile OSes) but it's a step in the right direction from two unlikely sources...