Mobile World Congress Why has Sony Ericsson 'succumbed' to Microsoft? The way the company's CTO Mats Lindoff explained it to us, is that you can't crack the US market without it. He was giving El Reg a glimpse into the future.
"We need products in all categories, maybe not in the ultra-low segment, but a broad portfolio. Windows Mobile in the US and in Nordic countries is the IT manager's choice."
Lindoff doesn't expect the Windows-powered Xperia to be a volume seller. Sony Ericsson is going for the "techie" niche which wants high performance and is willing to meet a high price to get it.
"It's not that UIQ can't deliver," Lindoff said. SE has put UIQ, a graphical user interface built on the Symbian OS, into two excellent new handsets, in the mid-range for the first time. The only serious disappointment with the G700 and G900 is that we won't be able to get hold of them until the end of the summer. They're as slim as the mid-range favourites like the K800i that they replace, but much more powerful – with touchscreens and (in the case of the G900) Wi-Fi.
Sony Ericsson stopped making CDMA handsets three years ago, but Lindoff doesn't think this will handicap its latest parry into North America, where 50 per cent of the market now uses CDMA. The Xperia X1 is GSM/W-CDMA. SE's parent company Ericsson is showing LTE at 25Mbits/s, Lindoff pointed out - and is happy to wait.
The main strategic bet is on DLNA, or the Digital Living Network Alliance, which is producing specifications for home media interoperability, built on UPnP.
Phones will be able to act as a universal remote control and sling photos around the house next year, Lindoff predicted.
He said much of his work involved pulling R&D out of parent Sony into the handset division, and trying to make it smaller and less power-intensive on the way. An example is the C902 Cybershot imaging phone, which began life as a Sony research project.
Two minor innovations which got a lot of excitement here in Barcelona are Tap To Focus (you obviously need a touchscreen phone like the new UIQ models) and face detection - that automatically finds a face in an image and focuses on it.
How well does it works for eyepatch-wearing pirates? We have no idea. But Tap To Focus is so obvious in retrospect, you wonder why nobody thought of it before. ®