RealTime IT News

'X' Marks a New Smartphone's Arrival

Sony Ericsson is jumping full-bore into the smartphone industry, and landing its entry, the XPERIA X1, among a very crowded playing field.

That's no mean feat when the competition already includes Apple's iPhone, Research in Motion's (RIM) BlackBerry and the Palm Treo family.

Scheduled for market sometime after this June, the XPERIA is a "converged" device that exceeds today's smartphone capabilities, Jon Mulder, product marketing manager, North America, told InternetNews.com.

"We bring both the enterprise support capabilities and the consumer functionalities together, which is the best of both worlds and we're doing it all well."

It also looks like the iPhone.

The in-development product is the vendor's second product that offers "converged" capabilities. The P1 series, launched last June in the European market, is a Symbian-based device that Sony Ericsson said has sold "extremely well." The vendor declined to provide sales or user figures for the P1 series in play.

X1 LTO
The iPhone influence in design
Source: Sony Ericsson

The North American sibling to that phone will run the Microsoft Windows Mobile OS with a little interface tweak. Mulder said one of the device's best features is a "panel" GUI layered over the OS, which provides users the ability to build nine mini desktops on the touch control display.

In addition to the usual smartphone features such as e-mail, messaging (picture and text) and basic application integration, the X1 provides a 3.2 megapixel camera, Bluetooth stereo, video streaming and FM radio features.

Some models will sport document editors. reader applications, and handwriting recognition capabilities.

"We're adding incremental value at every point we can to provide a unique experience. The panel interface is just one example. We realize, as a brand, we have to differentiate ourselves in this market and need to bring an enhanced product to market," he added.

That's an easy business declaration to make, but it's quite a feat to fulfill given the competitive industry. Of the 1.12 billion mobile phones sold last year, 2.3 were iPhones that shipped in the final quarter, according to Strategy Analytics. BlackBerry subscriber accounts hit 1.65 million in the last quarter, with 3.9 million RIM devices shipping in the same time period.

Sony Ericsson hasn't chosen an operator for a carrier relationship, and would not provide any cost projection, stating that pricing is a competitive element at this point.

One thing the vendor will talk about is how the P1 development and sales experience provided improved development for the US-based product.

"What we learned [with our European experience} is that you can always use more power and that the chipset on the platform level is crucial," said Mulder, noting that slow speed has been a complaint heard about the P series. "The user experience is solid and it's done well but the more powerful we can make the platform chip the more speed and better response we can provide a user."

That's why the X1 boasts nearly the biggest available battery available, a 1,500 miliamp-hour unit. "This is a converged device that provides all the great attributes of a smartphone," Mulder added. "With every product there are trade-offs and there will be tweaking as we produce and develop the product but this provides consumer capabilities with enterprise capabilities and needed support."