Microsoft has scored a coup versus rivals Apple and Symbian in the mobile space, getting Sony Ericsson to make smart phones that run the software giant's Windows Mobile operating system.
The two companies will unveil the first gadget in what will be a Windows-Mobile-based smart phone line Feb. 11 at the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona, Scott Rockfeld, group product manager for Microsoft's Mobile Communications Business, told eWEEK before the event.
Rockfeld said the first Sony-Microsoft smart phone, whose name is being closely held for the launch, will be a consumer device with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, touch screen, music and photo services running on Windows Mobile.
The smart phone line will be rolling out to retail stores all over the world in time for Christmas later this year, he said.
The introduction of the Sony-Microsoft smart phone will likely attract a lot of attention at Mobile World Congress, along with applications that run on top of Google's Android mobile operating system.
The pact gives Microsoft four of the top five mobile phone makers in the world making gadgets with Windows Mobile: Samsung, Motorola, LG and now Sony Ericsson. Nokia is the largest phone maker in the world, selling devices with the Symbian OS.
According to Gartner's most recent statistics, 18.7 million smart phones and PDAs shipped with the Symbian OS, compared to 4.5 million for the Windows Mobile OS in the second quarter of 2007.
By landing Sony Ericsson, which ships roughly 100 million phones a year, as another launching pad for Windows Mobile, Microsoft could expect to increase its market share and perhaps even find more real estate for its mobile applications.