Most of Sony Ericsson's current phones run the company's own operating system. The gadgets are popular in Europe among consumers who appreciate the joint ventures' camera and music-oriented phones. The company also sells Symbian-based phones with productivity and collaboration tools for professionals.
By partnering with Sony Ericsson, Microsoft will be better positioned to challenge Apple on the consumer side and Symbian on the enterprise side, Jupiter Research Vice President Michael Gartenberg told eWEEK.
"This is very big news for Microsoft as they begin to not only court the enterprise and the business customer but also recognize they need to go after the mainstream consumer in much the way Apple has," Gartenberg said, noting that Sony benefits from teaming with a credible maker of mobile software, an area the phone maker has been a tad weak in.
He also said getting Sony Ericsson, traditionally seen as a player in the Symbian camp, to now be a Windows Mobile licensee is a psychological win for Microsoft.
However, the ball is in Microsoft's court to execute with Sony Ericsson by selecting the right devices, forming carrier relationships around the world, and coming up with the right marketing so consumers know about the phones.
Assuming those challenges are met, Sony Ericsson and Microsoft need to bring the devices they create to market. This is no guarantee at a time when so many new prototypes are introduced at shows such as Mobile World Congress and 3GSM that never make it to retail or online stores.
Gartenberg won't venture a guess as to how many units Sony will ship with Windows Mobile, noting that it will depend on factors such as what the devices look like and what features Sony Ericsson builds into them.