Sony Ericsson has become the latest major manufacturer to use the Windows Mobile operating system in its handsets.
On Sunday, the company launched the Xperia X1, which it says will be the first of a new line of Microsoft-based models. Sony Ericsson's head of marketing, Dee Dutta, described Xperia as "the first brand that is truly borne from within Sony Ericsson".
The X1 features an "arc slider" design, in that its screen slides and tilts upwards to reveal the Qwerty keyboard beneath. It also sports a customised Xperia user interface (UI), continuing a trend -- begun last year by HTC with its Touch device -- of putting a manufacturer-defined UI on top of Microsoft's standard Windows Mobile interface.
The handset also utilises HSDPA (high-speed uplink) and HSUPA (high-speed downlink) connectivity. HSDPA has been available in some parts of the UK for the past year, but HSUPA is only now starting to make an appearance.
Speaking to ZDNet.com.au's sister site ZDNet.co.uk ahead of the announcement at the Mobile World Congress, Microsoft's international director of mobile product management, John Starkweather, said Sony Ericsson had been working on the Xperia line for the past year. He also hinted that the device could be the beginning of the end for Sony Ericsson's Symbian-based UIQ platform, which has underpinned the manufacturer's smartphones in recent years.
"The genesis of [Xperia] started last year after the announcement by Vodafone that they were moving in the direction of having fewer platforms across their network," said Starkweather. "Sony Ericsson [subsequently] gave us a call." In that announcement in late 2006, the operator said it wanted to pare down the number of platforms it supported, with a view to ending up with just Windows Mobile, Symbian/Series 60 and mobile Linux.
Asked whether Nokia, now the only major manufacturer not making Windows Mobile handsets, had expressed any interest in doing so, Starkweather said discussions had taken place on the issue.
"There has been a lot of sharing of ideas and lots of licensing of technology, and we look forward to the time where [Nokia] will go all the way," said Starkweather, who suggested that any Nokia-made Windows Mobile device would "probably be targeted more at business customers".
The Xperia X1 features a three-inch touchscreen and a sliding keyboard.