Microsoft, Sony Ericsson enter alliance

February 10, 2008 6:51:19 PM PST
Sony Ericsson on Sunday announced a new premium handset aimed at capturing the Web convergence market, blending multimedia with mobile Web communication in its first product using Microsoft Corp.'s operating system.

The Xperia X1 will launch in the second half of 2008 and will be sold worldwide, including in the United States.

It marks the first time Sony Ericsson is using Microsoft Windows Mobile in a departure from its collaboration with Symbian, an open operating system that is partly owned by Sony Ericsson.

Executives said their focus was on the user experience, not the operating system, and said that many Sony Ericsson signature features, including a patented nine-panel interface, had been built on top of the Windows operating system.

Sony Ericsson executive Steve Walker said Microsoft Mobile was the "ideal" platform for the X1.

"In the case of the X1, Microsoft gives us an opportunity to build on," Walker said. But he said that did not necessarily mean that subsequent handsets in the Xperia sub-brand would be based on Microsoft.

The handset features an arc sliding mechanism with a 3-inch-wide DVD-quality video display, a full keyboard alongside a touchscreen, and optical device for navigation.

Sony Ericsson executives declined to give pricing on the handset or say how many it plans to ship.

The partnership was announced on the eve of the Mobile World Congress, the largest wireless industry conference bringing together more than 50,000 industry executives from some 1,300 companies.

"With Sony Ericsson we are now working with the top five handset makers around the world," Microsoft product manager John Starkweather said in an interview before the Barcelona wireless conference.

Samsung, Motorola Inc. and LG all ship cell phones with Microsoft Mobile, while Nokia Corp., the largest handset maker by volume, incorporates some Microsoft technology, including Windows Media Player.

Microsoft expects to ship 20 million new phones using Windows Mobile in the fiscal year that ends June 30, Starkweather said.