Swedish conglomerate Teleca has bought UK mobile shell developer SurfKitchen, promising to keep it as an independent unit.
The idea is to keep research and development and operator sales in the UK, but let the larger organisation take care of deployments and servicing: Teleca boasts around 2000 employees to SurfKitchen's 55. Financial details of the deal aren't being disclosed.
SurfKitchen was one of the few remaining independent shell developers, having outlasted most of its competitors by virtue of landing some significant contracts with Orange and T-Mobile USA to provide top-level remotely-managed handset interfaces.
Surf's local competitor, 3G Labs, was bought up and subsumed by Qualcomm a few years back. Abaxia ended up owned by HTC and Action Engine was bought by MobUI in 2008, though MobUI still offers a similar poduct.
HipLogic continues banging the fourth-party-interface drum, offering its Spark shell as a free download, and SPB makes money selling an improved experience for Windows Mobile and Symbian handsets, though even SPB doesn't try to sell a shell for Android.
With handsets becoming increasingly commoditised there's a new enthusiasm for replacement shells, in the industry at least: whether users want them is another matter entirely. ®