The big names have abandoned the alternative Symbian user interface, UIQ - and the company has thrown in the towel.

In Summer 2008, Nokia decided to buy up Symbian and make it open source. The UIQ interface was also folded in, removing the possibility of a revenue stream for UIQ.

UIQ's owners, Motorola and Sony Ericsson, both looked elsewhere - with Motorola cancelling its UIQ phones and going for Android and Windows Mobile (if it still has a handset division in a few months), and Sony Ericsson going with Android, Windows Mobile  and direct to Symbian.

"There are no opportunities to create a new line of business in the current financial climate," UIQ chief executive Johan Sandberg told Reuters.

Why is it significant? It was killed by the failure of smartphones to live up to the hype of the early 2000s, at least according to Andrew Orlowski on The Register. The Sony Ericsson P-series was a success ahead of its time, merging Palm Pilot functions with mobile web, but it never made enough money in a niche surrounded by dumb featurephones that the users preferred - at least till RIM and Apple made a success of more specialised devices that Orlowski describes as "appliances".